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a collection of the 
writings of the 
left wing of the 
young socialist league 

published for: 

the young socialist 

box 471, cooper sta. 

new york 3, n. y. 

YOUHQ SOCIALIST Educational Bullotln 2 i 

WHICH ROAD FOB SOCIALIST YOUTH — Rofomiem or Revolutionary Socialism? 
Writings of the Left Mng of the Young Socialist League 

1« Introduction. ii 

2. YSL Left-Wing Doolaration............ ............ 1 

(Loft-Wing Bulletin. Mar oh, 1957) 

3. Lessons of the Recent KEC Meeting (Part 1) - by Shane Mage...... 2 

( Left-Wing Bollotin. March, 1957) 

4. Cartoon by B. P.. 10 

( Loft-Wing Bulletin. July, 195?) 

5. One Shaman and tho Swan© - by S. Aosop.. ............. ........... U 

( Left^Wing Bollotin. April, 1957) 

6. Resignation from the ISL - by Jamce Robertson......... •••.•••••• 13 

( Left-Winn Bulletin. May, 1957} 

7. Labor Action and the Raclsot Probe - by Martha Curti Wohlforthf.. 19 

( Left-Wins Bulletin. April, 1957) 

8. Cartoon by Larrabeo.... 23 

( Left-Wing Bulletin, July, 1957) 

9. The Strango Case of the American Forum - by Tim Wohlforth. ...... 24 

( Laft-?/ing Bulletin, July, 1957) 

10. Labor Democracy and the Reuthor Machine - by John Worth.. ••••••» 38 

( Young Sooialist Review. Juno 15, 1957) 

11. What is a United Front? - by Tim Wohlforth... 42 

( Loft -Wing Bullet In, June, 1957) 

12. The Politics of "Unity* - by Shane Mage... ............ .......... 48 

( Loft-Wing Bollotin, July, 1957) 

13. Glossary..... .,..,.»..••.••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• 60 

Published by 

2431 Dv/i,jht Way 
Bortoloy 4, Calif* 

July, 1959 



In th© present period one can notice certain signs of renewed interest in 
socialist ideas among the young people of this country. Socialist clubs are 
springing up on college campuses; socialist youth organizations in the coun- 
try's major cities are beginning to grow modestly; even teenagers are showing 
interest in socialist thought and politics. 

This is creating an environment favorable for the rebuilding of a socialist 
youth movement in the United States. In order to build such a movement, how- 
ever, we need more than the will for it, more than the hands to run mimeo 
machines and to pass out leaflets at campuses and factory gates. All the gooa 
will in the world, all the hard work, will not alone produce a viable socialist . 
youth movement. 

We need something more — a genuine socialist program upon which to base a 
movement. If there is one lesson to be learned from the 100-year history of 
the international socialist movement it is this: the desire for a socialist 
future is not enough on which to build a movement. Me must have a program 
capable of building a movement that can bring about socialism. All the polem- 
IT and resolution?, splits and unities, "isms" and "ites" are but reflections 
of the process of developing such a program. 

Socialist youth in the United Stt-tes do not have to start from scratch in 
developing a genuine socialist program. Fot only do they have the rich tradit- 
ion of the Marxist movement and its experiences over the last hundred years in 
almost every country of the world; they also have the recent work done by 
socialist youth of their own country in trying to develop a socialist program 
which is suited to our own times. 

• It is no mere accident that the deepest thinking on a program for socialist 
youth occurred* during a factional struggle within a small socialist organiza- 
tion known as the Young Socialist League. Marxism is not something that can be 
studied and developed in an ivory tower. It is developed in organizations 
formed by Marxists to realize their thoujits in action — even if the action . 
can be no more than passing out a leaflet containing those thoughts. 

In late 1956 and earl* 1957 the ioung Socialist league stood as the only 
nationwide body of young socialists separate from the Communist Party youth. 
!Ebis was the period of the Khrushchev revelations, the Polish and Hungarian 
revolutions, i'he entire left in this country was in flux, ifce task before the 
YSL was to regroup the socialist youth vho were seeking a way out of the ideo- 
logical crises brought on by the developments in the Soviet orbit into an org- 
anization with enough strength to make an impact on the broader strata of 
American youth. 

*aced with this opportunity there developed within the XSL tuo fundamentally 
conflicting approaches. The right wing, which controlled the organization and 
bad the backing of the fraternally related Independent Socialist Leegue of 
Max Shachtman, oriented not towards the opening opportunities but 
rather to the almost defunct Socialist Party. It sought unity with the S? 
affiliate, the. ioung Peoples' Socialist League, on the basis of the pro-State 
Depaxtmont politics of that organization. In reditu it was Beeking respect- 

ability rather than the "building of a genuine socialist movement. 

The left wing called for the regroupment of all socialist youth into en 'in- 
dependent youth movement with a genuine socialist program of opposition to the 
American State Department and Western imperialism and solidarity witt «» "ord- 
ers of the Soviet lands in their struggles for workers' democracy. 
Caucus Declaration, page 1 ). 

In the course of this political struggle, which ended in the forcing out of 
the YSL of the left wing, a whole host of important questions were discussea 
which are still of current interest. These include: 

•Che Am erican labor Mo vement : John Worth, in his article "labor Democracy ant 
the"Ee"uther machine? 7 Discusses the attitude of the ISL towards the "liberal 
section of the trade union Bureaucracy. Martha Wohlforth's "itf.bor Action and 
the Hacket Probe" deals with the reaction, of the Shachtman group to the govern- 
ment's cracldovn on labor racketeering, the McClellan Committee, just startle- 
operations when this article was written, still exists and the attitude of 
socialists towards it is still of considerable importance. 

The W itchhunt : A little-studied phenomenon is the effect of the witchhunt 
in "thiYcountry on the radical movement. Tim Wohlforth's "The Strange Case of 
the -flnerican Jorum" gives the history of the formation of the American j.orum 
for Socialist Education, the subsequent vitcbfcu&tlmg attach upon it, and tne 
reactions this precipitated on the left. It is Wohlforth's thesis that ttw 
witchhunt, acting as a catalyst on radical politics, gives us an insight in-o 
the differences "between reformism and revolutionary socialism in our own day. 

Socialist Unity and thj. Bui lding of a, l&bor Party* Shane Mage in "lessons o:' 
the *ecent FilC Meeting" not simply with the question of unity that raced 
the YSL. He goes deeper into an analysis of the right wing's "Theory of Stages 
with which they saw a gradual development of the labor movement, first to labor 
party consciousness, then to reformist socialist consciousness, ana then fmall: 
possibly, to revolutionary consciousness. He counterposes to this tne daman 
concept of uneven development in history. The ideas sketched out in this art- 
icle are very stimulating and deserve further .inveati&£.'*iQn<» 

Tjhe War Huestion i Jim Eobertson's "Hesignation from the ISL" not only gives 
us a good look into the real nature of that organization, but in the process 
deals with the important theoretical question of the attitude of socialists 
toward war. 

2&& United Front : A good deal of confusion in the radical movement has cen- 
tered around the united front tactic. One of the most efiective weapons of soc- 
ialists against capitalism when used pro^erl;-, it is also one of the most effec- 
tive ways of inculcating opportunism within the working-class movement when 
used incorrectly. Tim Wohlforth's "what is a United iront?" is an attempt to 
get at the real nature of the united front tactic. 

■ -iv- 

The Llectoral Question ; TTeedlesB to say, the struggle within the YSL would 
nothaVe "been complete if it had not at least touched on the electoral question. 
Currently the formation of an Independent-Socialist Party in Feu *ork State has 
caused a full-scale discussion within all sections of the rauical movement on 
this question. Shane *iage in "The Politics of Unity" points out how the real 
drift of Shachtman's politics to the right was most clearl* shown in his retreat 
on this question. 

A collection of the writings of the Left Wing of the YSL would not he complete 
without some humor and satire. "The Shaman and the Swamp" is, in my opinion, otj 
of the' finest pieces of political satire written for a long time. She ca-toons 
included in this collection speak for themselves. 

Out of all these articles emerges the outlines of a revolutionary socialist 
program. Some of the articles may lack polish. The reader may not unaerstand 
some of the initials used, or know of some of the people referred to. But one 
cannot fail to get an insight from. these articles into the nature of the divis- 
ion in socialist youth ranks "between the revolutionary socialists gathered 
around the YOIFG SOCIALIST, which contains the former YSL left wing, and the 
social-democratic youth in the YPSL, which now contains the former YSi, right 
wing. Every young socialist owes it to himself to explore the nature of the 
political differences "between these two formations before making up his mind to 
join either one. It is to help in this process that we are republishing this 
selection of writings from the left wing of the Young Soci« League. 

The material included in this collection appears in it3 original form, just 
as it was published during the actual struggle in the YSL. Therefore initials 
of organizations, titles of puhlic&tions, names of persons involved that were 
common knowledge to YSL members at the time but are not necessarily common 
knowledge to present readers are used throughout. 

In order to aid the reader some of the more ohscure names and initials are 
listed in the Glossary for indentification. 

— OT, April 7, 1959 



3?he National Executive Committee has adopted a resolution calling for 
unity with the Socialist Party-Social Democratic federation. Shis action calls 
into question the continued existence of the ¥SL as an independent organization 
of revolutionary socialist youth. 

Ihe ""EC resolution states that it is for unity on the "basis of the present 
political program of the SP-Siji'. Ihis program is reactionary and anti-social* 
1st. In world politics the SP-SDP supports U.S. imperialism and its "basic 
policies. In American politics the Sp-Siir supports the labor bureaucracy and 
its alliance with the Democratic Party. 

Genuine democratic socialism has nothing in common with these policies. 
On the contrary, the socialist movement can he built onlj b„ political struggle 
against the class-collaborationist and pro-impBrialist politics of the social 

If the YSL unites with the SP-SD? it will he abandoning this struggle — 
as is already shown "by the refusal of the SSL national leadership to criticize 
the SP-SDJ in public, and "by the aefusal of this national leadership to attempt 
to recruit memhers from the SP-SjJP into our organization. 

We are memhers of the *iSL because we want to assist in the formation of a 
revolutionary democratic socialist youth movement in the U.S. We are not 
sectarians. We are willing to unite with all socialist-minded youth on the 
basis of the minimum program of genuine socialism: independent political 
action of the working class and the oppressed peoples here ar.d everywhere 
throughout the world, against both Stalinist and capitalist oppressors. 

We consider that the basic question posed by the proposal for unity with 
the SP-SDi is. either to build the YSL on a socialist political basis or to 
liquidate the YSL in its present form on the basis of the anti-socialist 
politics of the SP-SDP. 

We believe that this is a question of such vital, importance that it is our 
duty to form a caucus in order to present our views to the members of the League 
and to save the socialist youth movement from the political disaster of the 
YSL liquidating itself into the BP-SUfr. 

We call on all members of the YSL who remain committed to building a 
real socialist ^outh movement here, in America, and now, in 1957* to Join 
with tie in this undertaking. 


LaSSO^S 01 TLfa jibUi"! TffiC kLtorm* (Part 1) 

"by Shane Mage 

Two central political questions were discussed at the w *i; meeting last 
January 26 ana 2? /.195Z/ — Socialist hegroupment and the current crisis in toe 
Stalinist movement. hoth discussions, each in its own fashion, aemonstruted 
the rightward development of the majority of the national leadership ox the l^ 
and clearly counterposed the political issues dividing the tendencies w.toin 
the ISL. 

Tho w.uo3tion of Socialist Unity 

The proposal that the ISL unite with the then Socialist Party was first 
raised at the "iC meeting last September. Although this proposal marsea a com- 
plete change in the attitude of the SSL toward the SP, which haa been one of 
extreme holtility since the ver* inception of the 3T8L, it was introduced in the 
most light-minded fashion possible. The X ery fact that such a proposal would 
oe made was concealed from the *W> members until the last moment prior to tne 
Plenum, and even then they learned about it onl* ty a passing reference, which 
already tool: this 180 degree turn for granted, i- the. -AC majority ^solution 
endorsing the SP in the election. The evident conception of the majority, in 
this respect, was that it had such complete control of the organization, and 
such complete political confidence from the membership, that any proposal it 
chose to introduce would be automatically adopted with onl* the most formal sort 
of discussion. This was also its attitude on the issue of supporting the wP in 
the presidential election, despite the fact that seven months before I hau sub- 
mitted a resolution calling for a "General Socialist Protest Vote. In a letter 
to the Los Angeles unit Comrade Harrington wrote: "We did not anticipate that 
these issues would become controversial... we knew that Shane haa his position 
and that Tim concurred. *ut we had no reason to anticipate dissatisfaction _ 
* throughout the organization ...» Of course, as the comrades know, tais oia rot 
turn out to be the case — the membership, ty referenaum vote, endorsea thD 
policy vie had advocated, and rejectee, that of toe ,t aC majority. 

To understand the full import of the discussion of unit* with toe SP-W-' 
at toe renea", .Plenum, we must start with an examination of the motivations 
presented by the majority for their ^ro^osal of unity with the SP l&sl ksjten *z- 
M that time this proposal was presented as essentially a tactical one, Da&ef. 
on the supposed strength of the a? left wirg at the SP convention ana on tin 
disintegration of the SP right wing. The majority advocated it on the groups 
that if the ISL aid XSL unitea with the SP they would take it over almost is-^rt- 
iately from the existing SP leaaerehip which thejr regarded as muddleheads p_ia 
incompetents, while if the S? refused unity, the I SL-iSL proposal would Bervj as 
an excellent maneuver to win over the SP "Left" which haa proposed that toe j» 
include the ISL in its merger with the Si;i'. 

We of the minority knew, both from our general evaluation of the political 
position and evolution of the iSL rijfct wi*g and from the concrete fact that 
the majority's unity line was intimately co^ected with their position of polit- 
ical support to the SP in the election campaign, that this wa^s no mere incorrect 
tactic, but a basic political li-e of capitulation to sociul present*! 
in the form of a raiaing maneuver. n evertiieless, we answered the majority's 
frguments on their own tactical ground, as well as on the principled poli-ical 


iasues. We pointed out that unit* with the SP would never he allowed by the SP 
leadership unless they felt completely sure that they wouxd he able to control 
thfunUed organization, and that they would lay down conditions which serve to 
Perpetuate r octroi. *e poised out that the SP was about to unite 

with the Biff, which would not merely move it even further *•,*«•«*»• £*,. 
would provide a really solid organizational base for the right wing SP leadership 

The majority comrades replied that unity hetween the SJ3F and SP was impos- 
sihle.^nd that whatever conditions were laid down by the SP leadership to. 
SwsiTEolS still he ahle to take the organization over because the y would 
smroly all the ectivists. we said that any attempt to take over the ^ would 
me?eS result in a new split with very had political results. The ar, swe r was 
tSt«PoLticaI primitives and political fundam en talis t. ■ ^^-J™ ^ 
♦ETvorst rU-ht-winsers in the SP, incidentally) woula stick with tne SP under 
*ll coitions so !St the loss of ihomas and a few others woula he unimporUnt 
aia more than com^nsttef » the influ* of "hundreds" of unaff iliateu radicals 
vno woutd, according to the majority join the SP merely it hau unitea 
with the 1SL. 1'inally. we maintained that the way to win over worthwhile in- 
dividuals in the SP "Left" was not to adopt a policy which could only support 
thlir musiona as to the possibility of socialists functioning in the SP hut 
to LresT in a frie*dl> hut clear manner, the basic, reasons way genuine soc- 
JaliTts do not helo'g in the social-imperialist swamp of the SP hut in a rev- 
i?utionaJy socialist org,nisati on like the iSL. Ihe replj to th.s was that the 
way to win over someone is not to talk about differences, hut to emphasise what 
is common hetween ^ou. 

(The opportunistic nature of this approach, especially as defined la 
practice hy the right wi-g. consists in the fact that *f fe ^ c °Va*isS ^ 
feno^eTand qnls. the common points mentioned, especially when toe existing 
aSferenSs ^fundamental and hasic, as is true of the Aitteroes. hetween 
revolutiorar. socialism and social democrat of any variety, this is riot only 
• uilSonest hut results in a political whitewash of the soci^l-aamocratic tenancy 
But Sain this is rot, for the right wi*g, a merely tactical mistake, for the 
tactual explanation is not really helieved in hut put forward merely to cover 
up the essential political content, ihus, speaking for the -AC ferity, 
Qomrade Harringto* i- the election discussion offered as prspi of toe S«* s 
WtolaSn £ Stalinism- the fact that "So he sure it l*J« t S ^ ■*•*•• " B 
o^sitlSn to the Stalinist regime, hut it also snpfaaslies what it ht.s in com- 
mon with the Stall*! st-Stalinoids." If we took the righting ' s argumentc tion 
seriously, we would have to state that they are advancing a very peculiar sort 
of political double stan-iM* ~- it 3.G copf.tuletioi for the S*P to emphasize 
trhat. it has in cordon wito staling cfcon- making basic and revolt ion spy poli- 
tical crit i oxraa' otf Stalinist politics and tho Stalinist re^Lncj yhlle far the 
SEstt to ^so unity *itt the SP-SDF while repairs lo criticise in public 
STSoS S too sSw'o pxo-capltaliet, pro-Snporialict politico is a le G Lt- 
Sfer2r^»«T7 political tactic? Y/e con a^ae wito Mike that toe term "cap 
itulaiioniet" io applicable to one cf those two approaches.) 

•xne speed witu wnicn the right w^ng umo.tuea the political meaning of its 
orientation towara the SP after the I^bor *ay Plenum is located by two fucts. 
Hrst, the political line of supporting the SP in the election was presented by 
the ri-^ht wing us occluding support to the SP itself. Harrirgton in arguing 
for his position, emphasised that he favored endorsing "lot. note this, the 5^, 
tho SP eavaiga." In practice, the iSL uid nut merelj endorse tho SP campaign, 

which would have been bad enough, but presented itself as the political agent of 
the SP by, in Few iork, Distributing SP leaflets containing SP interest blanks, 
and by failing to modify its support b,y any criticism of the SP or its campaign. 

Second, the Plenum decided that a full discussion on the unity creation, 
including presentation of both points of view in Challenge , was to be held 
before the next ^C meeting. As everyone knows, nothing of the sort was done — 
the majority didn't send out its draft resolution on this question until two 
weeks before the Plenum and in other ways prevented any discussion of their SP- 
SD1' unity perspective from taking place. If this central issue is discussed 
before the convention, as it must and shall be, it will be solely because of the 
efforts of the left wing.. At the last Plenum, the leading majority comrades 
showed great reluctance even, to give the unity question a pre-eminent position 
on the draft agenda of the next convention, and recognized the necessity of 
this only because of the pressure of the left wing, not because of its intrinsic 
merits or importance to the life of the organization. 

The Shift i n the Right fling's Motivation 

With this as background, we can now proceed to a consideration of the dis- 
cussions at the recent Plenum. The most striking feature of the discussion was 
the transformation in the motivation of the proposed unity with the SP-Sna'. In 
fact, the only member of the majority who had a word to s^y on this point was 
Comrade laylor who stated that "we could t«*ke over the SP in three days" but if 
we did, "it would be a horrendous mistake." .examine for a moment what this 
change of perspective means! the iSL majority is now willing to leave leadership 
of the SP in the hands of a political tenae^cy which is hostile to the most basic 
political positions supposedly defendeu by the 'iSL, and is not even willing to 
try to win the majority of the SP-b-Li to the general viewpoint of the iS.U if 
this is not a formula of capitulation to the social-democratic leadership, what 
is it? 

a similar change marked the attituae of the majority to the SP "Left." last 
September, they tried to magnify the strength and influence of the "Left »ing" 
in the SP in oruer to make their pro-SP position more plausible. Fow, the SP-Sui' 
"Left" is presented as quite insignificant, and of no importance at all in their 
orientation toward the S?-5i2b . What has happened'/ When the merger of the SP and 
the Sul was announced the SP "left wingers" reacted in a decent fashion — the$ 
denounced the merger as what it was, an act of complete political capitulation to 
U.S. imperialism, a unity whose political basis had nothing in common with soc- 
ialism. At this point, one would have expected a national leadership genuinely 
interested in building the JfSL and in winning the SP "left" over to a revolution- 
ary socialist position to repeat to these comrades what we have been telling them 
continually throughout our three years of existence ~ that they do not belo.ig 
in the SP, still less the SP-SLJ?, but ought to belong to a real socialist organ- 
ization, the XSL. One would expect the leadership of the iSL to point out to the 
SP "left-wingers" that the pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist character of the SP- 
Sii merger completely confirms all our previous criticisms of their policy of 
remaining i* the SP, and that if they want to continue to work for socialism 
they can *o logger avoia joining the SSL. hut the national leadership of tLj ISL 
a*d ¥SL aid no such thing — not onl^ aiu it not encourage the S.f "left" in its 
fight against the uerger with the Sx>P, it actually advised them to give up their 
opposition to merger tind remain in the SP-5^ i n o wonder the majority expressed 
no interest in winning over the SP "Left" — it has been too successful in con- 


vincing them to retreat from the genuinely socialist positions they had Begun 
to takeJ 

Who js Sectarian? 

Despite the accusations of "sectarianism" against us, we of the XSL left 
wing still desire, unlike the majority, to unite with radical youth from the SP- 
SIS? on the "basis of what we. have in common, even in spite of -ver^ important 
political differences, we therefore introduced a specific motion calling on 
left-wing youth in the SP-S1& to leave tliat organization, which they themselves 
declared had nothing in common with socialism, and to Join the 1'SL. £he vote on 
this motion was indicative of just who. in the iSL is interested in building the 
organization by winning over to it the SP "left wing." ihe vote: Jim and Shane 
for, all the rest against. 

But if the majority is uninterested in the SP-Si* "left," they are very 
definitely interested in the SP-S-ue' right wingJ After all, these are the people 
who have absolute control of the SP-Si>l organization, the group that will decide 
(unless the SSL membership has something to say about it) whether or not the YSL 
right wing will be able to liquidate the iSL into the SP-SLi. Ivhat, aiter all, 
does it matter if their politics are pro-capitalist and pro-imperialist t And so, 
when last September the important argument for unity was the success of the SP 
left in getting some votes for including the ISL in the unity, today the majority 
comrades proudly claim that more a*d more SP-SJi right-wing leaders are willing 
to accept the ISL and YSL as loyal members of their organization. And in return 
for this favor, the right-wing leaders of our organization are not exactly averse 
to applying a little whitewash to the SP-SiP right-wingers. Ihus Comrade Taylor 
was able to inform the "iC that the "SP" (K) member of the right wing was bold 
enough to use the Sr'-Sxd-'s real »-ame) is actually moving to the l eft . He ex- 
plained this discovery by the following curious logic, starting from the crisis 
of Stalinism: "Ihe Socialist Party supports American imperialism out of foar of 
Stalinism, not out of pro-capiti.iism. with the crisis of Stalinism the SP is 
starting to break with American imperialism." i'he syllogism ia so neat that one 
almost hates to point out that social democracy in general, including the Americ- 
an forerunners of the present SP-S-ue (j->ebs, if you remember, called himself a 
iolshevik), has been pro-capitalist ana pro-imperialist since 191^, long before ^ 
even Stalin had heard of Stalinism i 

Of course, there was some empirical confirmation offered lor this startling 
announcement — that the SP-Siis right wing is increasingly friendl; towara the 
ISL (as why shouldn't it be, given the eagerness of the I&L-±SL leadership to 
enter the SP-SLi on the basis of the ri^ht wing's ^rogiam'O, ana that the State- 
iiepartment "socialists" who publish the ff ev Leader have been suggesting to U.S. 
imperialism that maybe it could gain a political advantage over the *uissians by 
offering to withdraw its troops from isurope. Of course Gcnre^e iaylor neglected 
to mention tho acti^tl political movement shown by the formation of the SP-S-Js'. 
Ihe joint SP-Sii' ".iemoranuum of Understanding" hailed the Marshall Plan as an 
"expression of the American spirit at its best" and stated that its foreign pol- 
icy "murt not be based on the illusion that ^eace can be aci.ieveu by appeasement 
of the Communist imperialism that threatens the world's ^eace a"d freedom ... 
No retlize that until universal, enforceable disarmament can be achieved, the 
free world and its democratically established military infancies must be constant- 
ly on guard against the military drive of tiie Communist dictators." If this 


isn't a movement jt& the ri ^ht . the SP must have star ted much further right than 
even I suspected last August! 

iEhe n ew Line 

Ihe ^0 majority position in favor of unity with the SP-S2k is thus not at 
all motivated by tactical considerations of any sort, least of all the perspec- 
tive of raiding the SP which these comrades had used to cover up their position 
only a few months ago. The SP entr^ perspective has "been ^resented as part of 
a fundamental new strategic line on the development of socialism in the o.£. 
Shis line was spelled out in the "AC majority resolution anu in Camraae ta..r tin's- 
report to the plenum, in roughly these terms: 

It is possible at the present time for the American socialist movement to 
"break out of its isolation from the working class through the expedient of 
regrouping itself in the form of a "broad" socialist party, ihe leadership of 
this party must he social«democratic r "because the social democrats are aurthest 
to the rjsghj;, therefore closest to the present politics of the labor movement. 
In no sense is this party to have a "left wing" program, since advocacy of soc- 
ialist politics will merelj isolate it from the labor movement. Insteau, it 
will he for "socialism in a general sense" on the "basis of a "broad socialist 
program" (it should be noted that ty the term "broad" the ""aW majority me^s 
"Bight-win^ social-democratic," since it uses that term to describe the ^resent 
pro-capitalist, pro-imperialist program of the SP-Sui.} Ihis party will have 
the task of forming the nucleus of the "left wing" oi a future labor Party — 
this "left wing" to be based entirely on the advocacy of "socialism, n again 
"in a general sense." 

Comrade foartin presented this perspective as a theory of three stages! 

(1). Xhe socialist movement will revive itself around the S?-S±u nucleus. 

(2). A non-socialist labor party will be formed. The main axis of divis- 
ion within this labor party will be between socialists "in a general sense" and 

(3). 3?he Labor Party will adopt a socialist program. 

Of the many criticisms that can be made of this mechanical and unrealistic 
orientation, perhaps the most important is that it is totally divorced from ajff. 
evaluation of the objective situation in which socialist regroupment is to take 
place. Max bases himself on the proposition that "It i-s possible to revive the 
socialist movement in the U.S. today." But the socialist movement has not been 
withering ihis past decaue because of its own mistakes, but because the working- 
class passivity produced by the permanent war economy combined with the boom 
phase of the normal prosperity-depression cycle has uried up the natural arena 
for socialist political activity, A meaningful revival of the socialist move- 
ment in America can therefore come about onlj as a result of a fundamental 
change in this objective situation, and therefore the majority position can only 
be predicated on the expectation of such a change. But the conclusion that tiie 
majority draws when it speaks of an "Upening to the Aight," when it wants to 
adopt l social-democratic program in order to be close to the workers at their 
present stage of consciousness, is in complete contradiction to the expectation 
of a change which will violently alter that stage of consciousness.' The con- 
tradiction can be avoided onl? on the basis of a perspective of a gradual an4 
slow development, without violent breaks in the economy , and therefore in the 
working-class consciousness. J»ut this is not, to s<*y the least, our prognosis 

for America's fantastically unstable capitalism! It is, on the other hand, the 
tasic perspective of iveuther and the labor bureaucracy , the authentic American 
social democrats. 

The Abandoning of Marxist Methodology 

lhe "Theory of Stages" advanced by Comrade Martin is also very revealing 
of the right wing's views on the future of iunerican socialism, lirst of all, 
we should be well aware of the complete abandonment of fcaxxist methodology in- 
herent in Martin's formulation of his position. According to aiaiectical mat- 
erialism, social change does not take place through a peaceful, gradual evolu- 
tion from stage to stage; qualitative transformations occur at crisis points, 
in the form of a rapid and violent change marked above all by discontinuit y 01 
form, by "leaping over" historical stages in accordance, with the law of combined 
and uneven development which compels social classes to solve their historical 
problems by use of the most advanced methods available, and which absolutely 
precludes repetition of methods used under different conditions in a preceding 
historical period. The "classical" example of this process is of course the 
Sussian revolution, which saw the ftissian workers go directly from the "stage" 
of feudalism to the "stage" of proletarian dictatorship without stopping at the 
state of bourgeois parliamentary democracy, as the iien.shevik exponents of the 
"Theory of Stages" insisted they would have to. 

Comrade Martin's prognosis for the development of American socialism is 
thus non-Marxist in method. As a result, it completely ignores the violent and 
radical changes inherent in the very hugeness of American capitalism. The 
American labor movement is as sluggish as it is big and strong, because it is 
under the complete control of a privileged bureaucracy profoundly attached to 
the existing social oraer. To set this tremendous mass in motion, to produce 
such a revolutionary act as the break of the labor movement from capitalist 
politics, requires the action of economic and social pressures of tremenaous 
'force. Yet war tin expresses assurance that when the workers finally move, they 
will move slowly, a step at a time! 

iven within the context of ilartin's presentation, one stage is missing — 
the creation of a revolutionary socialist party, capable of leading the workers 
to the establi shment of their own rule. Is this because toax no longer believes 
such a party is absolutely necessary to achieve socialism, because he puts the 
creation of a revolutionary party off into such a vague ana distant future that 
he considers it irrelevant at the present time, or because he thinks discussion 
of it would disturb his new social-democratic friends? When 1 raised this 
point during the plenum discussion, hax didn't consider it worth a reply. 

The majority resolution on socialist regroupment also is marked by aban- 
donment of socialist political methodology when it states tiiat the SSL wants to 
create a left wing in a future labor party which "will aim at winning the labor 
party to socialism in a broaa, general sense." Socialist politics, as opposed 
to sectarian politics, does not seek to establish socialism by winning people to 
a set of abstract ideas, whether specific or general; on the contrary, it seeks 
at every stage to concretize its ultimate program in such a way as to effective- 
ly promote and stimulate the class struggle of the workers. The political 
program of revolutionary socialism exints basically as a Marxist worldview, bu1 
in the actual arera of class struggle it, like the program of any other ten- 
dency, manifests itself as a series of stands on concrete issues. The left 

wing of a labor party, whether that party called itself socialist or not, could 
never be based on "socialism in a general sense" any more than it could "be 
"based on, say, "Atheism in a general sense." 

Precisely "because irreconcilable political conflicts on the most important 
issues of our time exist among those who call themselves "socialists," any 
genuinely "broad" socialist part? would break wide open the moment it had to 
answer a real political question, such as, say, the attitude to take towaru a 
rank and file opposition movement in a union headed by a social-democratic 
bureaucrat who happens to sit on its executive committee. The "permanent and 
fruitful co-existence of the merged forces" envisaged in the majority resolution 
is thus conceivable, given the political character of the SP-Sitf leadership, 
only on one of two conditions: either the new party refuses to take a position 
on ajjy, significant political issue, and thereby reduces itself to the status of 
a sect as isolated from American political life as the SIP, or else one of the 
tendencies agreea to accept the position of the other on all points. And as we 
have seen, the right wing of the YSL has already declared its willingness to 
concede permanent control of the organization to the SP-SI** right wing. On 
such a basis "permanent coexistence" might indeed be possible! 

We of the minority have a different view of the objective circumstances 
which make regroupment of the American socialist movement an important possibil- 
ity at the present time. We believe that the mortal crisis of Stalinism makes 
possible now the creation of a new and broader party on a decent socialist 
basis, a party which would be able to intervene in the real political struggles 
which will mark the coming radicalization of the American working class. The 
majority, on the other hand, denies the primary role of the Stalinist crisis 
in the circumstances making possible socialist regroupment. They are compelled 
to do this, because their orientation is not toward those who, up to now, have 
been in the ideological grip of Stalinism, but toward the social democrats. 

Thus, Comrade Taylor, trying to answer the question posed by us, "What 
has changed to make unification with the SJEVSDP so desirable at the present - 
time, when we have always opposed it, and violently*" stated that "the discus- 
sion of socialist regroupment does not stem from the Stalinist crisis." He . 
listed four conditions which now combine to make this regroupment necessary 
lirst is "The isolation of the existing sects-" But this is not exactly new — 
the sects have been isolated for the last decade, and more. Second is the 
"DP crisis," whose central character Oomrade Taylor is trying to deny. Third 
is the "easing of the war danger," marked no doubt by such manifestations oj 
the "Spirit of Geneva" as the Suez crisis, the big increase in the U.S. military 
budget for 1957, the Eisenhower .Doctrine, and the current carefully staged Spy 
Scare, iourth and last was the already discussed assertion that the SP-SuP is 
"starting to break with American imperialism." 

Two Amendments 

After the "Draft Resolution on Socialist Realignment and Socialist Unity" 
had been approved by the ""AC, with only tomrade i'im in opposition, some 
right-wing comr&des reret-d it a*d made an alarming discovery — it included no 
statement of differences with the SP-Sluj, except on "questions of fact" (not 
even of theory!) concerning various "'historical 1 issues." The majority com- 
rades were concerned by this f^ct, some because the^ thought it left them vul- 
nerable to the criticisms of the loft wirg, others because they genuinely 


wanted to see a statement of their own basic and fundamental differences with 
the SP-SD? included in the resolution, lor the first group, Martin and Taylor 
introduced an amendment stating that the YSL differed with the BP-Srf on • 
number of issues (without, however, specifically characterizing the SP-SDS pos- 
ition on any of these issues as pro-capitalist or pro-imperialist;, and ^ promis- 
ing that the ex-YSL-ISL would seek to influence the SP-SW on specific issues 
asthe* came up (a valueless promise, if they are. sincere about not wanting to 
take over the merged organisation. As Comrade Shachtman has often tola us, any 
tendency that is serious about its ideas will not allow responsibility fox im- 
plementing them to remain in the hands of people hostile to those ideas.; if 
this belated addition to its original position is supposed to disarm our charge 
that the right wing is "capitulating to social democracy" I thin.-: we can repl,, 
paraphrasing Comrade Harrington on the SWP, that this amendment represents fa» 
hare minimum separating capitulation to social democracy from social aemocrecj, 

Some of the right-wingers on the TOB, while supporting Martin down the 
line politically, were very unhappy about this amendment. *'or instance Comrade 
Owen said that "Martin anu Taylor have put forward an amendment the* really cto 
not agree with but which they support in order to slur over the differences. 
!and Comrade ju% added: "i'Jax and Sonny /Ma* Margin «* s ™ ^W ^ v ° a "J* 
of unbelievable point of view ... the document only bears out the slanders of 
Tim and Shane." But Art and Owen — isn't your own failure to come up vita 
anything better than fcax'« position proof that our charges against the right- 
wing position are not "slanaers," but Jrue? 

Anamendment of a somewhat different nature was introduced bj, .bogdan 
/Denitch/ and George flings/. *bey stated that the hasic difference between 
themselves and the social democrats was one of class nature — taey regard the 
U.S. state as an enemy, the political agency of the capitalist class, while the 
social democrats regard the state as above classes, representing all the people, 
themselves included. 

This amendment had its faults, both of omission and of phrasing; but it 
did at least offer a basic political analysis of the American social democracy, 
and it was true as far as it went. Unfortunately, Bogdan and George refused to 
establish any principled difference Between themselves and the rest of the 
right wing. George stated that the sole difference he had with Max and Sonny 
was that they had "a different perspective as to the imminence of unity. -Bog- 
dan and George themselves are for unity, ard indicate that if it was imminent 
they would accept Martin's position. -As a matter of fact, they do not oelieve 
that unity is imminent for a. year or a year and-a half, and in the meantime 
they consider the majority line extremely dangerous, Bogdan charged that we 
cannot defend it with SP left-wingers, we cannot stand by it with right-wing- 
ers, it makes us a bunch of damn liars." They are also afraid the Martin 
position disarms the right wing against the SWP, the YSL left wing, and, eat- 
tremely indicative, the SP. Bogdan was extremely disturbed by the reaction of 
some memoers to the unity line. lie reported that in TT .Y. many right-wingers 
were very impatiert to get into the SP-Sii, and actually talked in terms of 
joining it as individuals. He described the effects he fetred from the inejoritj, 
line thus! "Suppose we tell our members that we can get into that swamp and^ 
that we can function in that swamp — won't they join the SP a3 indiviuuals? 

But if Bogdan and George were unablw to draw the conclusion that principle 


differences exist "between them and the right wing, the leading members of the 
right wing seemed to recognize it, and responued "by an attempt to dj£ena the 
BP-SiS 1 . Mike /Harrington/ called the Bogdan-George eawpoaent "t-'ul^-ar ht.rx-.Bm 
and scheinaticism at its worst ... these things are not true, are a lot oi non- 
sense." And Sonny, maintaining his role as the most outspoken apologist for 
the S?-Si&, accused iogdan of "slanaering the SP." 

In the end, the George-Bogdan amendment got only three votes (George, ffia 
and myself. Bogdfcn had no vote J She right wing opposea it solidl; , thus 
making even plainer than ever one of the uecisive facts of their political 
orientation — their absolute refusal to draw a fundamental line of aeni.r cation 
"between themselves and the SP-Siff right wing. 



)97Q'TUE SHOW QOES ON... tf. 



by S. Aesop 

Once upon a daydream, not too long ego, in a mighty nation, not too far 
away, there lived two groups of people, very fax apart. 

One was called the Bedmen, no one quite knew why; the others were called 
the Others, "because they were. The Bedmen were very very few out there were 
lots and lots of Others. This was not always the case, it was said, and the 
tribal tablets told of a time when lots (hut never lots and lots; of Others 
were nedmen. This was long ago. 

The Bedmen were a quarrelsome lot, few as they were, and did not live to- 
gether. They lived in separate tribes, each bei"g the True Bedmen tribe, and 
when iiedmen from two tribes met they sometimes argued most noisily. They only 
agreed, all of them, that one day the Great Power would fix it so everyone 
would be a Bedman. And they, or most of them, tried to help the Great Power, 
from time to time, but never did too well. 

nevertheless, in between quarreling, and changing tribes, the iiedmen 
thought hard about the Great Power and performed many rituals and made strong 
incantations to bring its day closer, -bach tribe had its own ritual and some- 
times several — for though the tribes were small there were many views and 
of times a tribe would be divided into clans each with its own ritual. 

How one day it came about that all the j&edmen began to quarrel about a new 
idea. This idea was that all aedmen should join together and make one bigger 
small tribe instead of several smaller small tribes. 

It would seem that this idea came to them because the biggest tribe of Aed- 
men which was not really a Bedman tribe but only just said it was — because 

this biggest tribe's Mighty Medicine Man had died and the new Shaman could no 
longer hide the badness of his ritual. It was a very very bad ritual indeed 
and real Bedmen began to leave this tribe. 

^ow it happened that each of the little tribes (except for one that lived 
on a high plateau, and another that lived in a swamp} wanted these Sedmen to 
come live with them, or best yet, as was stated, for all Bedmen to get together 
and form one bigger small tribe. 

One of these little tribes was ireTy excited. Its strongest clan was run 
by a sort of Bedman who was called Mighty Shaman. He was heaaman because he hat 
made his own ritual, could make awesome incantations, and mainly because out of 
the many tribes he had been in he had made this one. 

Mighty Shaman's tribe was small and old but it lived right next to a 
younger and stronger tribe. This younger tribe bowed down to wighty Shaman and 
used his ritual and made his nephew, Little Shaman, headnan because Little 
Shaman knew the ritual real well and could make almost as much noise as Mighty 

The iiedmen in Little Shaman's tribe were even more excited about tribal 
unity and tallied about it all the time. 


But Mighty Shaman had a strange ioea all his own. In hie wanderings he 
had once lived with the trihe in the swamp and he always regretted leaving. He 
had heard that another trihe (of ver$ pale lieamen to he sure J was coming hack 
to live in the swamp and make it even hotter for swamp dwellers. 

n ow it should not he thought that the swamp was not a nice safe place for a 
Bedman to live. It was. In the swamp a Redman could ooze down into the warm 
mire up to his neck and almost no one would know he was a iedman if he did not 
tell them. 

Besides, in the swamp a Redman was safe from the Others. She Others (or 
some of them} were sometimes very mean to the Bedmen and would not let them 
hunt or fish in certain places and even worse. But not in the swamp, in the 
swamp the Others did not do had things to iedmen and if the swamp trihe "behaved 
well (which they were very good at doing) and kissed the feet of the Others and 
took parts of the Beligion of the Others into the trihal ritual (which they 
did) why then they were allowed to hunt and fish all over. 

Well, Mighty Shaman decided he was lonesome for the swamp and called to- 
gether his Pow-wow Council. Some of the witch-doctors on the Pow-wow Council 
thought the slime was too deep in the swamp hut they were hooted down hy the el- 
ders who kept thinking of how warm and safe and comfortahle it would he. 

So it happened that Mighty Shaman called in Little Shaman and told him to 
prepare the younger trihe to march into the swamp. Little Shaman went hack to 
his trihe and incanted long ana loud. Ihe other leaders of his clan finally 
gave in "because he allowed them to think that the real reason for going into 
the swamp was to purn^ out all of the mud and huild a fine strong trihe which 
would gain many Others. 

Some of Little Shaman's trihal "brothers rehelled, however, and formed a 
ne',/ clan. Ihey pointed into the swamp at the unhappy younger swamp dwellers, 
and also they .said that they did not want to give up their ritual for that of 
the swamp. Ihey called for a new "bigger trihe of all iedmen, including the 
unhappy swamp dwellers, on firm dry land and with a good ritual. 

Mighty Shaman and Little Shaman and their lesser headmen "became very un- 
happy "because of this. Ihey sent out the story that the new young clan was not 
loyal to the ritual and was made up of scouts and spies from an enemy trihe. 

Ihis was a hig un-truth hut it scared many of the undecided memhers of 
Little Shaman's trihe and some of them stop. ed thinking reoellious thoughts and 
came again to sit placidly at the feet of Mighty Shaman. 

Ihey noticed, however, that Mighty Shaman's feet gave off a strange odor 
and were covered with clay and slime, due to his explorations in the swamp, wany 
of them just could not stand the odor and they went to the new clan and made 
it strong. Pi nail,, the Shamanites could not stand dry land any longer and they 
gathered up their followers a«d, after hegging the permission of the muddiest 
swamp dwellers, they snuck into the swemp to live. 

Ihey found it so pleasant that most of them slipped all the way down in thr 
muck and hurled themselves bo deeply that after a ver^ short while no one, 
fcednan or Other, ever heard from them age in. 





by James Robert son 
San Srancisco isay Area Sranch, ISL, April 12, 1957 

So 'break finally and irrevocably with an organization which has been one's 
principal concern for eight years is a serious matter. Shis is not, however, a 
resignation from the political group joined, for today the ISL is merely a 
woefully disintegrated remnant of the Party in which membership was originally 

She vicious circle of political retreat, organizational decay* and personal 
demoralization which has trapped the Shachtman group for some years has had 
remarkable consequences* At one time the Workers Party was an avowed and vig- 
orous revolutionary Marxist booy, which sought to give meaning and direction to 
its work from the standpoint of the revolutionary doctrine associated with the 
names Lenin and Srotsky. She past half dozen years, particularly, have wit- 
nessed a persistent, though gradual, wavering, and beclouded transition to the 
aims of reformist socialism. 


War. an& Stalinism 

Shis transition has taken place under the influence of a desperate Stal- 
incphobic reaction to the expansion of Russian power at the end of the Second 
World War into last and Central Europe and to the establishment of bureaucratic 
collectivist regimes in Asia, through Stalinist domination of anti-colonial 
. movements. She revisionism in the ISL, therefore, first showed itself with 
complete clarity in taking a position toward the threatened Third World War. 

In 1951 Shachtman wrote: 

"Without hesitation or ambiguity, we can say that the only greater disaster 
that humanity could suffer than the war itself , which would be disaster enough . 
if it broke out, would be the victory of Stalinism as the outcome of the war." 
(Emphasis added. ) 

With this perspective, the ISL was forced to seek a basis for its anti-war 
policy in the forces existing within the framework of capitalist imperialism. 
Swist and turn as it woulu, it was, if tenuously, tied within that framework. 

She first anti-war recipe elaborated that same year (1951) with this one- 
sided perspective reads as adopted b> the ISL Convention: 

"laced by the coming war crisis, the socialist movement will more urgently 
than ever call upon the working-class movement to take command, of the nation 
and, should it prove necesst-r^ as a result of the reactionary ana imperialist 
drive of Stalinism, to take command also of the defence of the nation. Jwen 
if, at the outset, a labor government which ttkes over the, , nation and defends 
the interest of the working people on ti.e basis of a genuinely uemocratic 
course in foreign and uomostic policy which ig, nqfc in feet suborujn&ted . to , the 


lnterests of capitalism and. Imperialism .should not .vet be a socialist labor 
government , the socialist movement stands pledged to support and defend it in 
word and in deed in any war in which it is threatened by a reactionary enemy, 
Stalinist Russia included. " (Jtaphasis added.) 

Shis , labor government is a strange animal indeed J ^ever "before seen in 
life (or in Marxist theory). It is either a lie or a delusion of its authors. 
So a Leninist, for a working class to smaBh capitalist imperialism and tahe 
command of the nation in war or peace necessarily requires- the socialist rev- 
olution, i.e., the establishment of proletarian state power as the outcome of 
a process of struggle culminating in the victory of a socialist working class 
with a revolutionary party at its head. "£ut," might have replied the authors 
of this anti-capitalist, perhaps not yet socialist government, "the need to re- 
place capitalism is urgent, and where is a socialist-minded working class, not 
to mention a revolutionary party?" So which one must reply: in America some 
way off, no doubt; but, this unfortunate fact does not deny the necessity for 
these prerequisites, merely their immediacy. I'or Marxists to engage in such 
day dreams instead of working for the real possibility of emancipation is in 
effect to deter the avowed goal. 

In more recent years the conclusion of the Korean war, the limited relax- 
ation generally in the cold war, and above all the more clearly seen horror 
associated with nuclear warfare, have forced into the background the Shachtman- 
ite toying with "a democratic war against Stalinism." In the meantime, the 
"lessons" derived from the new line have sunk deeply into the minds and conduct 
of the bulk of the ISI>, members and leaders, and corrupted their revolutionary 

£§£&£! PZ devolution, 

But is not the ISL a revolutionary organization? It certainly asserts that 
it is. What, however, is meant by the declaration? Mas Shachtman stated it 
exactly last summer in a government hearing on the listing as "subversive" of 
the ISL, formerly the Workers Party, and the former youth section, the Socialist 
Youth League. 

To the question: "When the organizations (ISL, WP, SYL) use the word 
•revolution' what do they mean by that?" Shachtman replied: "She reorg- 
anization of society on fundamentally different economic foundations ..." 

Moreover to the question: "Do you use the word 'revolution 1 to indicate 
the means whereby this change will be brought about?" 

Shachtman answered; ,,TT o. Shat is not involved in the term 'revolution' as 
we employ it." 

■Further on a contrasting was made with the meaning of reformism as follows: 
Question to Shachtman: "When you use the term reformist you mean a soc»> 
ialist organization which intends to achieve its ends by reformist 
methods. Can you be more explicit?" 

EeplyJ "Reformists seek to make capitalism work in a way in which we 
think only socialism can work — they want to reform it here and there ... 
we are for a more radical change of the basis of society." 

Shus by an attempt at terminological confusion the ISL would have it both 


waysJ accommodate itself to the enormous pressures end hostilities which ere 
operative against revolutionary socialists, yet "be "revolutionary" to silence 
left-wing critics and keep supporters with uneasy memories in line. 

Consider, however, the more honest answer which an avowed reformist soc- 
ialist gives to the same question. 

He asksS "Is democratic Socialism revolutionary f" And goes on* "If to he 
a revolutionary merely means to he opposed to the present unjust conditions 
and to strive for a society in which the existing evils are removed and the 
"basic human needs satisfied, who would not be a revolutionary? But it is 
obviously not enough to reject the present bourgeois order and advocate 
the classless society to deserve the title of a revolutionary. One must 
also want 'the revolution, 1 which includes wanting the techniques neces- 
sary to carry through a revolution and the consequences which flow from 
that. If we mean by revolution such an historically conditioned sequence 
of concrete actions, can democratic socialism support it?" 

To which the author answers himself I "Socialism is not and cannot be rev- 
olutionary in the Marxist, which is the precise historical sense of the 
term." Ands "To accept this conclusion implies b$ no means the endorse- 
ment of a shallow reformism. Democratic Socialism does not aim at reform- 
ing bourgeois society* thereby risking to consolidate it; it aims at 
changing it from within." — from "She Meaning of Democratic Socialism" 
by Pierre Bonnel, published by the Young People's Socialist League, 1956. 

In passing, it should be noted that the "democratic" "Socialist" author 
is a member of the Prench Socialist Party, currently leading the Prench govern- 
ment in conducting the bloody colonial war in Algeria. 

What all this means is that the ISL has conducted a verbal sleight of hand 
so that reformist socialists are to be seen as revolutionary socialists and 
reformers are taken to be reformist socialists (though the confusion between the 
latter two is partly inherent since, despite different professed aims, the 
means proposed are similar or overlapping; thus sane liberals want a labor part;, 
and some reformist socialists want to work for a "class-less" Democratic Party. ) 

The Fature o f , fog State 

Theoretically central to the above discussions of war position and termino- 
logical designation is the question of the class character of any given state. 
If the class character of a state apparatus is not irremedial then perhaps the 
state can be won (electorally) for the workers and by a non-revolutionary, per- 
haps not yet socialist, labor party. If on the contrary and in accord with 
LeniniBt thought, a state has an inherent, i.e. built-in, class committment, the: 
to effect fundamental change, recourse must be had to the creation of another am 
different kind of state by the revolutionary people. 

On this question wherever it has arisen as in analyzing the post-war 
British Labour Government, the ISL has for some years practiced a special kind 
of "avoidism" taking refuge, when pushed, in discussions revolving around 
"governments" and quantitative estimations of how good they are. 



Today end for some years past the Independent Socialist League has been a 
hollow shell, in distinction to an earlier period in which the vigorous internal 
life, the activity and sacrifice of the members, were such that any movement 
could he proud of them. 

Some Symptoms 

(1) She ISL has a discussion bulletin. She last issue to come out before 
the present crisis was in 195^ — over two years ago. Before that there had 
been only a couple of bulletins a year for four years. In the last months 
while the fate and future of the ISL have been in the balance, one slim bulletin 
has appeared. Some years back the membership participated in the life of the 
party to such an extent that one or more thick bulletins a month came out. 

(2) The past couple of conventions, constitutionally to be held enex^ two 
years, have been held perhaps three years apart and in a perfunctory manner by 
any previous standards* 

(3) She national committee of the ISL has been a paper committee for years. 
There are no plenary meetings apart from convention times; it does not even 
receive minutes of the deliberations of its sub-body, the Political Committee. 
Thus the leadership of the organisation has rested exclusively in the hands of a 
largely uncontrolled little group of half dozen leaders in one locale. 

These and similar considerations clearly reveal that the organization lacks 
internal life, possesses a most apathetic membership and - is characterized ty an 
absence of democracy. Fot that it is bureaucratic; there is simply an internal 
vacuum — nothing. 

The Crisis In Leadership 

While successive sets of national leaders inherited from pre-war days have 
defected or decamped, their replacements coming up from the ranks of the League 
have been meager indeed. Two whole political generations are simply not willing 
to assume the responsibilities and sacrifices of party work. Those who in the 
war years came to political maturity and then considered .themselves professional 
revolutionists, are today mainly dispiritedt family men first, socialists 
second. Those recruited into the youth leagues off the campus in the post-war 
period are, to the extent that they are still around, busy furthering themselves 
in their academic and professional careers and part-timing their socialism. 
Hence the apparatus and national office of the League are being strangled for 
lack of personnel and have little hope for the future. 


The decline of the ISL has proceeded by interaction and mutual exacerbation 
at both levels — the changing role it conceives for itself as a socialist 
movement and its ability to build and hold a devoted cadre, for what real point 
is there to self-sacrifice by the membership, if the results of such work are in- 
creasingly seen as essentially irrelevant to sociial progress, which is supposedly 
to come without a necessary participation and eventual leadership of a revolut- 
ionary vanguard in the working class. Thus the demoralizing tendencies mutually 


reinforcing and accelerating, have resulted in Shachtman 1 s current proposition 
to liquidate what is left of the ISL and enter the Socialist Party-Social 
Democratic federation, itself the recent product of a similar surrender on the 
part of the Socialist Party. 


With the foregoing rejp^yks on the ISL in mind not too much need he said 
about the Shachtman "unit^ proposal. The following should he noted! 

(1) It is no unity proposal as hitherto known hy that name. There is no 
political basis for unity, merely that the SP-SDP will accept the ex-ISL 
people into their ranks. 

(2) It involves a political capitulation to the pro-capitalist and imper- 
ialist policies of the SP-SDP as Shachtman makes clear hy the insistence that 
the ex-ISL memhers in the SP-SDP will keep their particular ideas in their 
pockets for a long time and not oppose the leadership of ^orman Thomas & Co. 

(3) It is a liquidationist proposal which virtually guarantees the dis- 
appearance of the Shachtman tendency in short order. If entrance into the 
SP-SDI' is obtained, the hulk of the ISL memhers will have found simply a rest 
home j those who may have gone along with the illusions that their leadership 
was executing some kind of "Leninist" tactic will drop out or go over conscious- 
ly to reformism. Should entry not he made in the fairly near future, the sit- 
uation will he even more disastrous. Already the ISL memhership is living 
with "hags packed." She entry idea has unleashed all the centrifugal forces in 
the ISL and at a point when the League is on the "border line of collapse anyhow. 

(4) It is a move essentially independent of the regroupment taking place 
among the former supporters and memhers of the shattered Communist Party. This 
is shown hy the testimony of PC memher Hal Draper that the entry question was 
first raised in the Political Committee over a year ago, "before the Khrushchev 
revelations; and it was made public before the Eastern European revolutions 
wreaked their toll on the American CP. 

(5) It is being argued in terms and leads to activity by the ISi 
which does real disservice generally to the cause of a militant class-struggle 
socialist reunification. The SP-SDP is a bitterly sectarian grouping which 
conceives of its "democratic" socialism aB violently hostile to all varieties oi 
Leninism, its heirs and assigns, all variants and deviations from same, real 
*and alleged. But the preponderance of radicals in America come under one or the 
other of the SP-SDP 1 s proscribed listings. Pew will follow the lead of the ISL 
in forsaking the advocacy of their beliefs in order to coexist in a little sect 
under the leadership of social democrats crusted with age. 

Moreover the ISL must exhibit a fundamental hostility to every regroupment 
enterprise and proposal not seemingly leading to membership in the Socialist 
Party-Social Democratic Pederation. 


The precipitating reason for this resignation is that the ISL is proposing 
not only to liquidate itself, but to uestroy as well the more viable, militant 


Young Socialist league. 

The ISL exerts a great influence in the YSL. To counteract this demoralis- 
ing control it is necessary to attack the ISL. This, however, is incompatible 
with continued membership. These obligations have led to a muting of criticism 
of the ISL. Io continue this situation would be an abdication of responsibility 
in the Young Socialist League. 

Some of the ISL's supporters recently leveled an untruthful and personal 
attack in the pages of the Young. Socialist Review, against the present writer so 
as to discredit his views and the achievements of the present Bay Area Young 
Socialist Clubs, YSL, with which he is associated. In order to make a satis- 
factory reT)ls it was impossible not to take up the question of the role ana char- 
acter of the ISL. Such action necessarily brings to an end the writer s member- 
ship in the Independent Socialist League. 

James lobertson 

San Jxancisco Bay Area Branch, ISL 

April 12, 1957 

Stanley Larssen and David Carleton, being in substantial agreement with the 
above statement, also tender their resignations from the ISL at this time. 

ieceived from Berkeley on April 1?, 1957 



by Martha Wohlf orth 

The current Senate investigation of labor racketeering is daily unearthing 
lurid details about the connection of certain corrupt union officials with the 
underworld, vice, government, and "business. This committee, the Senate Select 
Committee on Labor and Management Practices, will keep these unsavory details in 
the headlines, day after day, for months and even years. The effect of such an 
atmosphere of hysteria on public opinion provides an unequalled opportunity for an 
attack on the entire labor movement and for an intensive drive to put through 
anti-labor legislation at every level of government. A "right-to-work" bill has 
recently passed the state legislature in Indiana, a major industrial state with 
600,000 union members. A similar bill failed bj only two votes in the Idaho 
Senate. In Delaware, leaders of both parties are making a strong effort to push 
a "right-to-work" bill. • The VM has released a new batch of anti-labor propagan- 
da, labor leaders have virtually given up all hope of repealing the anti-labor 
legislation in the eighteen states where it now, exists. They frankly state that 
the "Congressional climate is not conducive to any move for iederal action to shut 
the door to state rule over union security." (tf.X. Times. March 4, 1957. J 

In the midst of such an attack on the union movement, when the rery right to 
strike and organize are seriously threatened, it is the clear duty of every mil- 
itant socialist to come to the defense of labors to point out to the well-meaning 
but oleguiaed liberal public the dangers inherent in the situation! to destroy 
the illusion that the bourgeois government, the enemy of labor, can solve the 
workers 1 problems for them. 

Labor Action has failed pitifully in this important task. Several articles 
by Ben Hall and Jack Wilson have put forth an attitude of virtually uncritical 
support to the labor bureaucracy (albeit the "progressive" section of that bur- 
eaucracy) and its policy of cooperating with government investigations of unions 
and denying to union officers the right to hold office if they invoke the 1'if th 
Amendment. Several union papers, among them Hotel and Eord iacts — which for- 
tunately, in this case, have a far larger circulation among workers than does 
Labor Action — have taken a far more correct and more militant stand on the 
question than has Labor Action . 

The official union policy, recently adopted by the Ai'L-CIO l&eeutive Coun- 
cil, is that union officials have a responsibility to cooperate with governmental 
investigations of labor organizations and that those who invoke the Jifth Amend- 
ment have "no right to hola office." In addition, the iieuther leadership of the 
UaW stated that it actually "welcomed" the government investigation. 

The most basic flaw in Labor Action 's approach is this J at the outset it 
should have stated the obvious, namely that the problem of racketeering can never 
be solved under capitalism. The most important fact that the present investiga- 
tion is clarifying is that labor racketeering could not exist without the active 
participation of a section of the ruling class. Illegal activities among the cor- 
rupt elements in the unions are inextricably linked with business, big and small, 
end with city, state, and even iederal government. The Senate committee may be 
able to get a Hoffa or a Dio (though even that is not too likely) but the big, 
well-known and highly respectable men who are undoubtedly behind the Hofi'as and 
the Dios — those the Oommittoe would not wanfr to get even if it were able, iur- 


thermore the personal motivations of the racketeers* consciously expressed by 
many of them in the hearings- on welfare funds last year, reflect the pressures 
of this profit-oriented society* "She guys on the other side of the bargaining 
table have Cadillacs and diamond rings," they say, "why not us too?* 1 

Secondly, L ftbor Action has failed to adequately point up the dangers of 
entrusting to the eaemies of labor a task that should be done by labor itself. 
Sen Hall admits (LA March 11) that "some commentators maintain that the unions 
should have voiced a strong unanimous protest against any government investiga- 
tion." But the unions could not do this, claims Hall, because they failed to 
clean their own house soon enough and now would be accused of "covering; up" for 
the corrupt elements. It is indeed unfortunate that this government investiga- 
tion had to occur, according to Hall, Eut it was made necessary; it is the 
"evil consequence" of labor's having permitted rackets to flourish for so long. 
And since it is necessary, claims Hall, there are certain advantages to labor: 
it will create a climate in which Carey, &euther, etc*, the "progress ive" labor 
bureaucrats, can speak out openly against Hoffa and ieck, and it will speed up 
their own drive against the racketeers} and the $350,000 appropriated to the 
committee, more than labor could ever afford, will enable many facts to be un- 
covered which the unions can use. So it is not such a bad thing, after all, 
even though of course it is doing tremendous damage to the prestige of the 
labor movement. 

Of course we socialists cannot excuse the casual and permissive attitude 
toward corruption which has existed for so long in the labor unions. This, 
however, is no reason why we have now to Jump on the bandwagon, give up all 
faith in the ability of the labor movement to do its own Job. It is not possible 
under capitalism to eliminate ajtl corruption in the unions j but very significant 
progress can be made, and the very process of the struggle will sharpen the. 
consciousness of the workers. 

On this issue many elements in the unions are far more outspoken than 
Labor Action . In- the ieb. 2 issue of lord facts , organ of Local 600, the UaW's 
largest local, Carl Stellato came out with an attack on the Senate Committee and 
on the Al'L-CIO Council's support of it. He pointed out that labor le quite 
capable of cleaning its own house, and that the Job should not be entrusted to 
the very people who are the most powerful and outspoken enemies of labor. Had 
L frbor Action reported Stellato 1 s attack, it would undoubtedly have been quick to 
point out that Stellato is the msst outspoken opponent of jxeuther in the HAW, 
and was seizing this opportunity to make a demagogic attack on Heuther, whom 
Labor Action has consistently supported through the years. Demagogic or not, 
Stellato 's remarks are perfectly correct, and doubtless reflect much dissatis- 
faction and pressure from the ranks. 

Hotel . organ of the *eu York Hotel Trades Council, AiL-CIO, has devoted 
considerable space in its Jeb. 25 and March 4 issues to an attack on the official 
Al'L-CIO policy. According to Jay taibin, Council President, even some of those 
who voted for the AiL-CIO policy have expressed misgivings about the ultimate 
consequences. He stated that "it 1b their feeling that the door has been opened 
to intervention in union affairs by people who have no interest in labor except 
to undermine and destroy it. Those taking this view ask whether Congressional 
committees are really concerned with eliminating racketeers or whether they are 
seizing upon wrong-doing ty a few individuals as a means of launching an attack 
on the labor movement* ... Among those taking this position are some who are mosi 


concerned with cleaning corrupt elements out of the labor movement* But they 
are frankly doubtful that the Job will or can he done "by Congressional or other 
governmental committees and urge that the task is one for labor itself . * . 
because 'what affects any part of the labor movement affects all, ' the Inter- 
national also must speak out against labor's enemies and their efforts to use 
the sins of a few to smear and destroy the many. The open-shop elements such 
as the National -Association of Manufacturers ... are eager to see labor inves- 
tigated not because they are concerned with the elimination of racketeering, 
but because they want to discredit union organization ... cleaning out the few 
corrupt elements 'is the Job of labor alone. ,B Bubin also emphasized that the 
only way the Job could be done was to see that control of the unions "is in the 
hands of the members." 

Ve see, then, that several progressive labor leaders are far more aware of 
who their enemies are than Labor Action 's writers are. Shis important quest- 
ion is scarcely mentioned in Labor Action . The reactionary composition of the 
committee is well known to socialists, but at least they should be reminded of 
it, which Labor Action does not do. McCarthy, Mundt, and kcClellan are notor- 
ious. Of idcClellan the ?T.y, Times says, "He fits without apology among the 
Southern conservatives. " The only so-called "friends of labor* on the Committee 
are Mclfemara and Kennedy. The pervading tone of both Hall's and Wilson's art- 
icles is one of pessimism and lack of faith in the working class to solve its 
own problems independently of the bourgeois government. 

The "Principle" of the fifth Amendment 

A third weakness, and a very serious one, in Labor Action 's treatment is 
its discussion of the fifth Amendment. Hall seems overwhelmed by the vague^ 
promises in the moral codes of the AtfL-CIO Council to uphold the "principle of 
the fifth Amendment, The code statesJ "we recognize that any person is entit- 
led, in the interests of his individual conscience, to the protection afforded 
by the fifth Amendment and reaffirm our conviction that this historical right 
must not be abridged." It goes on to say, however, that if a union officer in- 
vokes the Amendment "for his personal protection and to avoid scrutiny bj prop- 
er legislative committees, law enforcement agencies or other public bodies 
into corruption on his part, he has no right to continue to hold office in his 
union." This is clearly an invasion on the constitutional provision that an 
individual does not have to testify against himself, ££ matter what frhe reason. 
If exceptions are made in the case of racketeering, who knows where the line 
will be drawn next? To prove a person guilty of any crime requires (or should 
require) evidence other than the accused person's own testimony. It is the 
elementary duty of a socialist to defend the civil liberties of any person, no 
matter how despicable his personal actions or his political views may be. 

Hall gives four rationalizations for the Council's position* l) It 
defends the "principle" of the fifth Amendment. As stated above, defense of a 
"principle" means nothing unless one is willing to defend it in all its aspects. 
Z) It does not direct its fire at Communists. "By omission it makes a dis- 
tinction between racketeers and Communists." Wouldn't you Bgree, Ben, that it 
might have made slightly better distinction than that? 3) The statement is 
"carefully worded so that it does not apply ... to any and ever^ use of the 
i'ifth Amendment at Senate hearings." So the Fif th„ Amendment can be used on 
some occasions. If there are any , occasions where it cannot be used, it might 
as well not exist, k) "The Council does not suggest toat such witnesses be 


penalized by the government for refusing to answer questions," merely that they 
are not entitled to hold office in a union. She only trouble with this code, 
Hall goes on to b&», is that enforcement of it is left up to each International 
union, and in many cases they won't "bother to enforce it! 

Hotel is again, on this point, mare aware of reality than is Labor Acti sa. 
Hotel etatesJ "Some in labor also have expressed concern at whatthey regard as 
aTuTrender of basic constitutional rights. They argue that the iifth Amenament 
must he defended in principle and that a& £igjjt eaa hjg. giyja a* without Iffiggliir 
ins fill, including ultimately. jthe. r i g h t. & JftUEB. && &SL £& OfWl»a « ka- 
phas! s added.) 

labor Action Out of gnnch With Labor 

lahor Action has its ears so finely tuned to the labor hureaucracy that it 
fails to hear the grumblings of discontent in the ranks. The statements of 
Bubin and Stellate- provide ample evidence that the policies of the Al'L-HO 
Council are not being swallowed without protest. But no word of these or sim- 
ilar protests has found its way into the pages of Labor Action . Who should Ben 
Hall choose to mention as his sole reference to the existence of opposition in 
the unions to the policy of the Council? Fo other than Dave Beckl Beck stated 
that he opposed the policy of the Council regarding the I'if th Amendment and that 
he would protect the right of Teamster officials to invoke the Amendment. The 
fact that the Teamsters Union is one of the most corrupt and undemocratic unions 
in existence does not mitigate la MX Jutt «» correctness of Beck's stand. It 
is significant, I think, that Hall did not, while justly attacking Beck for his 
crimes against the working class, defend the use of the fifth Amendment in all 


The primary purpose of the Labor Action articles appears to be the descrip- 
tion of the various corrupt practices of some union officials. This we can read 
in gory detail in any daily paper. But a socialist analysis of the real causes 
of corruption in the labor movement, the role of the labor bureaucracy and the 
government and their relation to the class nature of our society does not seem to- 
be forthcoming. 

This type of reaction is but the latest example of the orientation of the 
1SL (and the ¥SL' B right wing) to the labor bureaucracy* It seemB that in every 
case where the working class ought to do something, these people find some reason 
why someone else ought to do it for the workers — either the trade union bur- 
eaucracy, the liberal movement, the social democracy, or the bourgeois govern- 
ment itself* 

This orientation is an integral part of the overwhelming drive toward 
respectability which impels the ISL to regard entry into the SP-SDJ as the only 
solution to its problems. There are many militant comrades in both the ISL and 
the YSL who consider that the most urgent task for revolutionary socialists is 
work in the union movement. These comrades must be made to realize that this 
work will be greatly hindered, if not made actually impossible, unless this 
bureaucratic outlook is reversed. 





Y/ Y' 

' by Tim Wohlforth 


The modest attempt "by A.J. Muste to establish a forum to further the reg- 
roupment discussion has led to the most fantastic chronology of events. All the 
forces latent in the regroupment situation have "been brought out into the open 
by the catalytic action of the ever-present witchhunt. 

As A. J. Muste and his forum symholizes in concrete terms the entire re- 
groupment discussion, both in the eyes of the radical puhlic and in the eyes of 
the bourgeoisie, a close examination of the "case history" of the forum can 
yield a wealth of information about the contending forces on the left and the 
fundamental question of unity itself. 

What is tha American forum ? 

Way back in Marchf after playing a leading role in the regroupment discus- 
sions for a couple of months previously, A. J. Muste organized a meeting of 
representatives of all the tendencies on the left to organize some sort of per- 
manent forum for the purpose of furthering the regroupment discussion. It was 
his desire to see the present regroupment discussion flourish. He hoped to do 
this "by setting up a permanent forum which would foster the spreading of the 
discussions horizontally into areas where it has yet to occur and to put forward 
the basic principle of the all-inchisiveness of the discussion. It was not 
Muste 's idea to foster any type of united action among the tendencies as he did 
not feel there was a political basis for such action today. Ee certainly had no 
intentions of establishing the forum on any political hasis whatsoever. 

ITorman Thomas, who had previously "been interested in the project, withdrew 
his support after .consultation with the SP-SBb 1 and in that way indicated that 
the SP-SHF would not participate officially in the forum, following suit, Max 
Shachtman, who was listed on the call for the conference, wrote a letter to 
Muste on March 19 asking his name to he removed. 

Prior to the conference a special meeting was held in order to urge the ISL 
to change its mind on the question of support to the forum. This attempt was 
unsuccessful, but the ISL did send a representative to the conference in order 
to argue for its position. The ISL held that the forum must come out for democ- 
racy everywhere before it could be considered respectable "in the eyes of the 
working class." Also present at the conference were representatives of a number 
of other tendencies including the left wing of the SP-SBF (which was represented 
"by Dave Mcfleynolds). The 0? was there despite the objections of the foster 
faction and was represented hy one of the leading Gatesites, Albert Blumberg. 

The only one who supported the ISL's line on the "democracy" question was 
hcieynolds who went along with the forum anyway. The feeling of the others was 
that this was not a political organization but rather "a broad loose place where 
everyone can get together for discussion purposes." It would be ridiculous, 
they arguod, for such a iorum to take a position on a basic political question 

* March, 1957 .. Ed. 


when it was the purpose of the Forum to discuss just such questions on an all- 
inclusive "basis. The ISL on the other hand felt that without such a position 
the Porum would have "a Stalinoid complexion." The ISL dia not attempt to ex- 
plain how it could participate in the Independent Socialist Porum in San Fran- 
Cisco and still refuse to participate in the Muste Forum. The ISP, like the 
Muste Forum, naturally has a "Stalinoid complexion" since it merely reflects 
the present composition of the radical movement as a whole. It is as much of 
an "organization" as the Muste Scrum, having a chairman, an executive committee, 

The real reason for this contradiction is the significance of the Muste 
Forum itself. What the Jorum did was to concretize and symbolize on a national 
scale the entire regroupment discussion in such a way as would (and certainly 
later did) put the spotlight on the whole process, furthermore it did so on 
the basis of one fundamental position? the all-inclusiveness of the discussion. 
It seems clear that both the SP-SLP right wing and the ISL were attempting to 
find a formula for the exclusion of the CP from the discussion to start with. 
One cannot be sure in this case whether the ISL simply thinks along the same 
lines as the SP-S2P right wing, expressing the same infallible instinct as to 
what is or isn't "kosher" with the powers that be, or whether the ISL was 
reacting to the SP-SLP leadership in such a way as to appear respectable to it. 
Whatever the "inner motives" of Shachtman, the net effect was the same. 

Thus at the -v&Ti' beginning of the Muste affair a polarization had set 
in •— a polarization and political alignment which is of extreme significance. 
It symbolizes a correlation of forces which has played an important role in the 
past two months and which we will be seeing a good deal of in the months to 
come. On the one side stands the entire radical public' — the CP, SWP, Cochran- 
ites, Pacifists, Left Wing SP-Sii , etc., and on the other side stands the "re- 
spectable force" — the SP-Siii' with its own unsolicited worshipper, the ISL. 

In a communication on April 5 to the YSL on the ISL's position on the 
Porum I stated* PThis report is of special significance to the YSL as it re- 
flects a new line adopted by the ISL on the whole regroupment perspective. 
There is no doubt that the effect of this line will be felt in the ISL ...' 
ffeedless to say, shortly after this the FaC adopted the ISL's position in ;toto 
without changing so much as a comma. I was the only 1TAC member to vote against 
this line and to support the Muste Porum. So far the only other individual in 
the YSL who is not in the Left Wing to come out in favor of participation in 
the Porum is Bob Bone. The others by their own silence must be classified as 
supporters of the Stalinophobic position on the lorum of the Social Democracy. 

And so the matter stood until May 13. 

Enter the Witchhunt 

On May 13 the ^ew York Times reported the formation of the American 
Porum — for Socialist Lducation. The announcement was followed by a series of 
events which momentarily blew up the entire regroupment discussion and tore the 
last shreds of decent socialist covering from the naked body of the Social Dem- 
ocracy. On May 14, the SP-SDP, according to the ^ew York Post , characterized 
the Porum as a "cover for totalitarianism" and in this way put in a somewhat 
cruder form the line of the ISL and XSL right wing toward the American Porum. 
It also was announced that a Sleeping Car Porter's official resigned from the 


National Committee of the Jorum after, it is understood, pressure from very high 
up in the trade union bureaucracy vas exerted upon him. 

On May 15 the Ifoaa condescended to discuss the matter in an editorial. 
Since the Times hardly erer "bothers to discuss the left on its precious editorial 
page, this gesture emphasized the importance of the American Jorum in th*. eyes 
of the bourgeoisie. In this way it focused the attention of the entire bour- 
geoisie and its witohhunting-representatives upon this new "threat" from the 
left. Using language much more sedate than the ISL, not to mention the SP-SJff, 
it stated: B We note that .this new .organisation provides a formal means of co- 
operation, even -if only for purposes of discussion, of prominent Communists and 
non-Communists who do have- claims to- stand in the main traditions of genuinely 
.American radicalism." It was- touching iideed to note the T^mfts, 1 concern for the 
fruitful and progreasive-outcome of the discussion among radicals, as well as 
its-Interest in jgre serving— "genuinely American radicalism." 

.At -about the- same -time- the - no t-so-subtle. and sedate representative of the 
capitalist class, the Hew York Da ^v >■■ stated in an editorial entitled 
"Look into this Mob*J *We suggest, that the- Senate Internal Security Committee 
look into this mob without -delay}, -also that the attorney General make inquiries 
as to whether, .he oughtn't .to add it swiftly to his list of subversive organiza- 
tions* 41 

" Immediately following this the Senate Internal -Security sub-Committee under 
acting- chairman Senator Butler subpoenaed four members of the American lorum 
national- committee and -Senator Eastland wrote a. letter to a. J. Huste requesting 
information, a letter which Muste answered with a flat statement of non-cooper- 
ation. —Butler., -according to the Chicago TrfbuBp. also asked for the Attorney 
General -to inquire into- the- possible listing of the Jorum. She TrAbufle. states? 
*I£ a Justice -Departmenrt inquiry establishes that- the new -organisation is a 
camouflaged, adjunct of the- Communist Party, Butler said, it should be -added to 
the list of-subversive -organizations in^the United. States as a warning, to sup- 
■portars 4maware of its hiddenrcontrol* 

• 2hus-we see -that' the-bowrgeoisie-'haa put* the'full weight of the witchhunt 
ttpen-this. small committee in an attempt to smash the regroupment discussion. 
a?hoee.-who--doubt- that- the- entira jregroupment discussion, is at issue and not 
simply the American -Jorum Jbad-better think twice, as right now other "committees 
are beginning, to -bear down on the regroupment discussion in other quarters. 
Jor instance- 1 learaed-in -berkelay that George Hitchcock, - chairman of the Indep- 
endtmt- Socialist- Jorum,, has- been subpoenaed -to- appear before one of- -these comm- 

, *lt^0©o* tbftl the Atto»ey General- has taken the advice of hia- senatorial 
friends,, for the June 13 tf.X. Times reports that the Justice ltopt. "is very 
imi/.> interested, in the possible Communist control" of the American. Jorum ■ — 
f or Socialist Education. It goes on to report that -the- matter has been referred 
to the Justice Sept. * a -Internal Security Division. We can all- heave a sigh of 
relief fox owe wwucity ia now in. safe handal 


The Finger Men for the FBI 

Fov let us see what the reaction to this witchhunting attack upon the 
American forum has 'been among the various forces on the left. To 'begin with on 
May 15 Herman Singer, National Secretary of the SP-SDP, wrote a letter to the 
Times in answer to its editorial of the same date. In this letter Singer com- 
plains that the Forum, "by using the name "socialist," has violated his copy- 
right. For obviously it can not be a socialist Forum since it isn't affiliated 
with the Second International. He goes on to says "The American Forum in- 
cludes members of the Communist Party and representatives of two Trotskyite 
organizations. As such, the American Porum misuses ths name Socialist." You 
see, even Trotskyists are not "socialists" in the eyes of the State Department 

On May 16 the National Action Committee of the SP-SDP met on the question 
in an atmosphere of hysteria with Singer "calling for our expulsion," according 
to Dave McHeynolds. At this meeting a motion was passed recommending to the 
PSiC that it declare membership in the Porum to be incompatible with membership 
in the SP-SDP because of the inclusion on the national committee of the Porum 
of a representative of the Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party. 
Another motion was passed requesting all SP-SDF memhers listed on the national 
committee to withdraw in 10 days. Pinally a motion was passed endorsing the 
press release and letter to the Times issued by Herman Singer. 

Thus the SP-SDP officially responds to the witchhunt hy extending it to its 
own ranks and adding its own pressure to that of the witchhunters in an attempt 
to smash the Porum. In that way it clearly showed its character as a capitulat- 
or to the witchhunt and its inability to really struggle against the witchhunt. 

This ought to cause those who are in such a fever to enter the SP-SDP to 
stop and reflect before they leap. Bare we see clearly the political nature 

* This theme is amplified in an editorial in the June issue of the Socialist 
Call . The editorial in reality attacks the Times from the right. It seems 
that the Times devoted too much space to the formation of the Porum, thus 
making it more difficult for the SP-SDF to wreck it. The Call states: "It is 
possible that the Porum would have made a modest entrance, been duly flushed 
out by the Socialist Call, appropriately branded as a fraud for its use of the 
name socialism and then have disappeared." The Times is then attacked for 
giving "the impression that, despite the presence of Communist Party members and 
Trotskyites, the American Porum was a legitimate medium for discussion of soc- 
ialism." The Call editorial goes on to point out that the whole thing is a 
result of the recent CP line of infiltration, a line which, among others, those 
dirty "Trotskyites' 1 now follow. We are informed that "with the liruschev (sic) 
revelations the barrier between Communists and Trotskyites has evaporated." 
This in spite of the fact that as recently as the first Ai'-S£ rally, June 12, 
Blumberg made a special point of mentioning that the differences that separate 
the CP and SWP are of the "gravest character" and Parrell Dobbs likewise 
spelled out the most important differences. But to the demented mind of the 
SP-SDP they are all the same thing. It should be noted that while all the SP- 
SDF declarations to the capitalist press constituted nothing but a red-baiting 
attack on the Porum, their protest against Eastland's witchhunt attack on the 
free speech rights of the Al-SE was confined to a small squib in their house 
organ, tlio Socialist Oall . 


of the SP-SDP as a Stat© Department socialist group utterly incapable of resis- 
ting our ruling class on any important matter. When the chips are down it 
lines up inevitably with the "bourgeoisie against the interests of the working 

We learn something also about the organizational nature of the SP-Sufr. ^ The 
SP-SDF, far from "being a broad all-inclusive organization, will not permit its 
members the right to join as individuals the American Swum. In fact whenever 
the left wing in a crucial issue publicly declares a position which differs 
from the SP-SDP and therefore from the State Department, expulsion is in the 
air. let all those who wish to enter the SP-Sids ponder over whether they intend 
to keep their mouths shut in public and if not, whether they are willing to 
risk expulsion, if it comes to that, in order to defend socialist principles. 

The Pew Leader , which is the most well-known, though "unofficial," spokes- 
man for the Social Democracy in this country, printed an article by Diana 
frilling in its May 2? issue which expresses the views of this branch of the 
Social Democracy on the Sorum. After her usual attack on the liberals for 
being too hard on McCarthy because of their guilt complex for not realizing 
the dangers of the "Communist Menace" soon enough, she had the following to say 
about lie regroupment discussion J 

"The appeal for discussion of their 'problems' is the best possible appeal 
which Communists can make to non-Communist leftists. Fothing is more attractive 
to the leftist intellect than the illusion (my emphasis, TW) that there is a 
rift within the Communist Party of which he can now take a reasonable advantage. 
If the shift in the Soviet line had not actually precipitated defections from 
the ranks, such defections might very well have been invented for the high 
dividends they pay in non-Communist sympathy and accessibility — and, in fact, 
there are those of us who are crude enough to doubt whether there have in truth 
been as many alienations as are now advertised. It is Just possible, of course, 
that Borne of these withdrawals were conveniently arranged, or even pre-arranged 
before Khrushchev's speech, in order to distribute Communist agents in places 
where they would otherwise not be welcomed and ensnare a new generation of 

There we have it — the whole thing is simply a Communist plot. So works 
the demented police-state mind of the right wing Social Democrats through 
their organ, which Sam Tajlor of the ¥SL FaC remarked so recently was "moving 
to the left." Sod save us from those who call themselves socialists. I prefer 
a liberal any day to "socialists" of the Few Leader's ilk! ( Iftunrny Kempton, 
Few York Pos t columniBt, had this to say about the Jorums "I wrestled, I 
might say, a long time within myself before I decided not to apply for member- 
ship in Muste's committee. It wasn't the two communists that threw me; it was 
those ex-fellow travelers. I have known quite a number of Communists I liked, 
but fellow travelers depress me. They're so self-righteous.") 

The other forces on the left rallied to the defense of the American Jorum. 
The SWP, which has been attacked in some quarters for not really being inter- 
ested in regroupment, defended the iorum wholeheartedly in action ana on the 
front pages of the Militant . Zaslow and McAvoy, both of whom were subpoenaed 
by the Senate Committee, resisted this witchhunting pressure, showing the dedi- 
cation of the Committee for Socialist Unity both to its self -proclaimed goal of 
pocialiRt unity and to the defense of free speech against the witchhunting 


at tacks of the Eastlands. Dave Dellinger, representing the anarcho-pacifists, 
defended the Forum in the current issue of Liberation, pointing to the number 
of pacifists and other anti-Stalinists on the national committee. He defended 
the fundamental principle of free discussion among all radicals. 

David McSevnolds and the Pine Art of Capitulation! sm 

What was the reaction within the SP-SDP to this ultimatum of the TtaC to 
resign from the AF-SE national committee within 10 days? In the first place, 
the star performer, Dave McEeynofcds, acted out his "by now well-known routine. 
As far hack as 1954, when the merger of the YPSL and SXL came up, he found him- 
self in the position of turning his hack on those he felt closest to politically 
hy refusing to Join in the formation of the YS1, He would stick to the S? come 
hell or high water, and eventually his program would win out in the ranks, was 
his approach. In this way he weakened the development of the united third 
camp youth movement in this country. 

More recently he conducted a principled fight against the merger with the 
SDF. He stated that this merger was cased on the "worst, most shameful pol- 
icies of the State Department and John Foster Dulles" and that it was not a 
socialist unity at all. However, after talking with Shachtman he capitulated, 
called the unity actually progressive and attempted to rally the left wing to 
support the unity. In doing so he promised to fight for one thing at least at 
the conventions the name Socialist Party must remain, hut once you start on 
the road to capitulation there is no turning hack! he gave in on that also. 
As a reward for his "nohle" capitulation, in which he so unselfishly put the 
politics of the State Department "before his own, he was kicked off the ? T AC. 
This is the way the SP-SuF pays for capitulation to it — Shachtman take note J 

The current capitulation is even more sickening. After talking to Harring- 
ton, I understand, he resigned from the American Jorum he had helped to set up 
with his friend and co-thinker A. J. Muste. Turning his hack on the Forum, he 
urged the rest of the left-wingers in a letter to do likewise. 

He wrote i "To say that I personally have heen sick at heart this past 
week is to put the matter mildly indeed. The Part v . acted without giving us a 
hearing, in hysteria, and in a totally undemocratic way. Herman Singer s tel- 
egram to the ,?T . Y. Times on the A.F. was a classic job of playing f ingerman for 
the Justice Dept. and the F.B.I." He goes on to note that "Bayard Hustin, one 
of the Vice Chairmen, has made it clear that he will have to withdraw or else 
give up all his work on the Southern ^egro Question — as a result he is 
withdrawing." Another SP memher is resigning because it may endanger his pos- 
ition as "business agent of a small union, he also remarks. And thus he points 
out how his own leadership, whom he describes in the letter as "the two-bit 
second rate party hacks running the > T .0., n is part and parcel of this whole 
witchhunting affair j and how the hureaucrats running the n egro organizations 
and trade unions have simultaneously exerted their pressure upon their members 
on the committee. How does tocieynolds himself react to this pressure? "How- 
ever after very careful thought and conferences all this week 1 find myself in 
the inglorious position of sounding the retreat once again." And so goes 
David hrftey no Ids, sounding one inglorious retreat after another as he slowly 
marches backwards through history. 

Ihis is a classic case of capitulation and its end result is predictable — 


political suicide. Just as in 1928 when Zinoviev and friends capitulated to 
Stalin on the "basis that they would save up their forces for a future struggle 
at a time of their own choosing, so tocHeynolds promises to fight, not now, hut 
later > Just as Zinoview was forced into one capitulation after another until 
he was politically "bankrupt with no following whatsoever, so kcJseynolds has 
hegun on this course with two major capitulations in the last few months which 
have seriously weakened his authority within the Party left wing, not to men- 
tion the radical public as a whole. Just as Zinoviev' s capitulation ended in 
his extinction at the time of the Moscow trial, so NcHeynolds ' capitulation 
will end, not, we hope, in his physical extinction, hut certainly in his 
political extinction. 

Ihis classic course deserves careful study in the YSL, for it is the pro- 
jected course of Shachtman in the SP-SEk 4 and for Draper in relation to Shacht- 
man, and even for all those who we are told "disagree" with Martin hut who 
"bloc with him against the left wing. 

How did the rest of the SP P SEF left wing react? Considering the immensity 
of the pressure hrought to hear against them, one is forced to conclude that 
these individuals, regardless of one's political differences with them, stand 
as giants compared to Singer, Mcfieynolds, or even Shachtman. 2?hey stood up in 
their own party against this witchhuntiig attack and withstood the pressure of 
public opinion in general. 2?hey deserve (and have yet to receive) the official 
support of the YSL. kcBeynolds resigned as did two others. However Charhneau, 
Braden, Sihley, and Ihygeson (national secretary of the 1PSL) stuck to their 
gunS and Stryker joined the Jorum' s national committee in protest.* Ihus 
there remain today, despite the threats of the SP-SUi" fTaO and despite the sup- 
port to these threats hy the SP-SJDi 'TaC recently, six SP-SDi' memhers on the 
ITational Committee of the AJ-SE. 

Enter Shachtman 

At this point in the drama it might he well to return to one of the minor 
characters involved in whom we have a special interest — to Shachtman. 'when 
we last left him he had written a letter to Muste announcing that he declined 
to support his venture. 3Ms letter, which was reprinted in part in the way 2? 
I^hor Action in the context of another letter to the AF-SE National Committee, 
places Shachtman in the position of heing truly a Casaandra. 

He seems to have foreseen the avalanche of the witchhunt that would hit 
the American Porum for he states: "If they cannot agree on such an elementary 
notion (defense of democracy everywhere) — if they equivocate or evade it al- 
together — the new organization will lay itself open from the start to charges 
and suspicions from which I fear nohody — not you or I or others — could con- 
vincingly defend it. It would start under a cloud that I would not want over 
my head. " Shachtman — luckily for him — has not had to stand under this 
"cloud" during the last few heated weeks. And so life is a little easier for 
him and unity with the SP r SDP a little closer. 

I do not wish to class Shachtman 1 s attitude on the same level as that of 

* It has just come to my attention that Tad Tekla of the SP-SDi 1 in Cleveland 
has appliod for memhership on the AI-S& national committee. 


the SP-SDF, nor certainly on the same level with Eastland. There are important 
differences as well as similarities. In the first place the SP-SUiP itself did 
not go as far as Eastland and call for putting the group on the Attorney Gen- 
eral's list. It even uttered a feeble protest against the abridgement of free 
speech involved in Eastland's campaign. Shachtman, however, sincerely wants to 
defend the Porum. He states: "I have nothing hut contempt for the intentions 
behind the advice which the reactionary press offers to socialists, and in par- 
ticular I regard the clamor for governmental and police intervention ana per- 
secution with loathing." 

Shachtman is not completely clean in this matter, 1 am sorry to say, for 
good intentions are not enough — they are important, hut not enough. Shacht- 
man's defense of the American Jorum is limited by two factors: his agreement 
with the estimation of the SP-SDP, the Few i'ork Tiffles and others, that the 
Forum serves as a cover for the CP; and his entry move into the 5P-&DJ. 

On the first point, Shachtman just happens to agree with the Times and 
others, that cooperation of all radical tendencies in order to discuss is not 
permissible, at least not in this form. He agrees with the SP-SSF that the 
Forum is a cover for "totalitarianism," though he would use somewhat different 
phraseology. Thus in this respect he has given in to the witchhunt. He fears 
he would lose his purity in the eyes of the SP-SEF if he had to bear the burden 
for the ""cloud" (or "Stalinoid complexion" as it is sometimes called; over the 
.American JTorum. He claims of course that this is bocausc he wafcto to remain 
"respectable" in the minds of the workers, but it seems evident from his actions 
that he is simply bowing to the prejudices fostered by the witchhunt atmosphere. 

In fact one might say that it is thinking along these lines that is in 
reality the real appeal of the SP-SJDF entry line within the ranks of the IS1 and 
the TSL right wing. In this context it is interesting to note the remarks of 
the YSL spokesman in Cleveland who said the SP-SSP "is clean and has a good rep- 
utation and has never been in trouble with the government." Such thinking is 
the antithesis of *a militant socialist struggle against the witchhunt. 

Another example of this type of thinking is found in Shachtman *s Hay 27 
letter to the AF-SE, printed in Labor Action . He states that this Porum 
"places an unwarranted burden upon those who have acquired serious and respon- 
sible positions in the broad labor, Fegro and other movements. The isolation 
of such individuals can only further the isolation of socialists from these 
broad movements, and certainly will not alleviate it." Thus, instead of defen- 
ding the right of Bustin and the various labor officials to function in the 
Porum even though he himself does not wish to do so, Shachtman seems to be 
blaming the Porum for enlisting their support in the first place. Instead of 
attacking the bureaucracies of the- trade union and Fegro movements for capitula- 
ting to the witchhunting pressures and clamping oown on the democratic rights 
of their members, he attacks the Porum for "embarrassing" them. Such a twisted 
and distorted approach (especially since it was published after the opening of 
the witchhunt attack, whose scope Shachtman was intimately aware of) amounts 
purely and simply to a capitulation to the witchhunt. Part and parcel of this 
approach is the attempt of Bogaan l>enitch, while on tour for the XSL, to use 
the resignation of hustin not as a sign of the witchhunting attack on the Porum, 
but to prove that "responsible" Fegroes agree with his analysis of the Muste 
Porum. If Denitch claims that individuals who are forced into submission by the 
prossure of the witchhunt agree with him, then I am forced to admit that I have 


heen too lenient i» describing hie position, ior in this case Deni ten's posit- 
ion would "be simply opposition to the Jorum in order to save one's skin from 
the witchhunting onslaught. Along these lines Charlie Walker, the only YSL VSG 
memher on the West Coast, stated that if the Muste Jorum had come out for "dem- 
ocratic socialism" it wouldn't have had all this trouble with the government. 
Enough said ahout this sickening aspect of the "business. 

Another factor which limits Shachtman' s ability to play a progressive role 
in the defense of the American Jorum is his unity move with the SP-SIU. As 
noted ahove, one of the most important aspects of the entire struggle against 
the witchhunt was the heroic resistance of the SP-SDJ left wingers to the joint 
attack perpetrated "by the combined forces of the witchhunters and the SP-SDJ 
right wing. It is clear that anyone really interested in the defense of the 
AF-SE would come to the defense of these fine comrades. A civil libertarian 
would understand that what was at stake was not one's attitude towards the Jor- 
um, hut the defense of the right of the SP-SDJers who favor the Jorum to con- 
tinue as members of its national committee. This would accomplish "both the 
militant defense of the Jorum and also the protection of democratic rights 
within the SP-SDJ. 

Shachtman, however, instead of defending these comrades or even keeping 
silent while the right wing moved against them, actually attacks Muste for 4a- 
vitiwg them in the first place . (See his May 2? letter in La J Here again 
appears that distorted approach of ShachtmanJ The witchhunt is not to "blame; 
the SP-SU leadership is not to "blame; only touste is to hlame for the whole 
thing. Such an approach is hut another example of capitulation to the witch- 
hunt. Also it is further confirmation of the characterization of Shachtman as 
the future "policeman of the left wing" once in the SP-SDJ. 

It can he assumed that Harrington in his conversations with wcieynolds 
played a Bimilar role and urged, not that kc&eynolds put up a fight for his 
right to stay on the Committee, hut that he capitulate and talk the entire left 
wing into capitulating. 

The YSL Sets Into the Act 

During the course of my tour I "became incensed at the attack "being leveled 
at the American Jorum and concluded that it was my socialist duty to rally to 
its support. I tvrote a letter to A. J. huste offering my support ar.d announcing 
my willingness to join the "ational Committee of the Jorum. I did so making it 
clear that I would function as an individual and would not represent the Y»L as 
a whole. Thus I would he in a position similar to that of the Left Wingers in 
the SP-SDJ. I realized at the time that there were certain dangers involved and 
that the YSI right wing might take action ag&inst me. However, I knew that I 
had solid foundations for such a move in the "basic principles of the YSL as a 
hroad organisation and that as long as I acted as an individual and did not 
present myself as representing the YSL, then I was acting perfectly within the 
hounds of discipline of the YSL. Jurthermore I felt 1 could not stand aside 
when the fine comrades of the SP-S^i left wing were taking a similar risk for 
the sake of "basic socialist principle. 

In reaction to this step the YSL right wing with unprecedented cpeed 
moVed r^ain&t me with threats of expulsion. The only reason they d:".a not expel 
me on the spot was the nearness of the Convention which they itlt would he a 


better time to expel me. Such an action by the right wing is in keeping with 
their solidarity with the SP-SDF right wing and their fever to split their 
organization if necessary in order to get into the SP-SJ». Just how the right 
wing expects to explain its actions against its left wing for supporting the 
Muste Porum to the left wingerB in the SP-SHF is difficult for me to see. It 
will be still harder for it to explain this to the radical public, 90 per cent 
of whom are represented on the .American I'orum Fational Committee. 

I for one do not intend to give in on this matter. I feel it is my right 
as a YSL member to participate on the .American lorum Fational Committee, and the 
right wing is making a travesty of our traditions of broadness in its hurry to 
expel the left. The YSL has a tradition of permitting its members to hold dual 
membership in rival and hostile political organizations. The atf-SB certainly in 
no way rivals the YSL and has yet to be declared "hostile" by the right wing. 
In fact the statement to A. «?. Muste refusing to support the Jorum was written 
in a very cordial manner. Muste himself has always been regarded favorably by 
the YSL. There is a tradition of friendship and political collaboration between 
Muste and the YSL symbolized by the fact that A. J. Muste spoke at the founding 
convention of the YSL. So certainly there is no ground for preventing me from 
holding membership in an organization which is neither rival nor hostile and 
which has no politics. 

I urge every member' of the YSL to rally to the support of the American 
fforum and to reject the attempt of the right wing to expel the left wing. To 
refuse to do so would be a tremendous blow to the YSL. It would mean the ex- 
pulsion of a quarter of the membership of the organization, and furthermore 
would cause the complete discrediting of the YSL in the eyes of the radical, 
public. It would further isolate the YSL from all but the SP-SD* right wing. 
Such a policy would lead, not to a progressive regroupment of radical youth 
forces, but rather to the building of an isolated social-democratio sect. 

JBxit Shachtman 

There are a number of people in the YSL who explain away their flight 
from revolutionary politics by stating that the fundamental difference between 
reformism, centrism and revolutionary socialism will become important only in a 
revolutionary period. However the classic roles of these tendencies have been 
acted out today in relation to the American iorum. 

One can spend years debating the unity question, pointing out the social- 
democratic formulations of the right wing, speculating on the possibilities of 
building a "broad Eebsian party, n and it will all be for nought if the discus- 
sion does not uncover the basic tendencies in action and reaction when they 
come in contact with the ruling class and its interests. The one progressive 
function of the intrusion of the witchhunt into the regroupment discussion is 
that it lays bare the real nature of the contending forces and the inability of 
each to struggle against the ruling class. 

Let us first take a look at the self-appointed personification of social 
democracy, the SP-SDT. Having accommodated itself to the ruling class over a 
long period of time, it tends to view politics in much the same way as that 
class, and thus is able to react to the impending pressure and furor of the 
ruling class before that pressure is released. Thus at the very beginning of tfc 
discussion on the formation of the Jorum it bowed out unceremoniously. Once it 


heard the master's voice through the editorial pages of the V. Y. iiigs i* 
reacted in minutes with a telegraphed letter to provide ammunition to the 
witchhunting attack on the Jorum. Ihe following day it gathered together its 
national committee and with vengeance extended the witchhunt into the ranks of 
its own party. 

We see today in this one minor incident that the Social Democracy plays the 
same perfidious role as lackey to the ruling class as it does in a period of 
revolution when it openly supports counter-revolution. The only difference is 
in the degree of importance of what is at stake. 

flow let us look "briefly at a more complicated phenomenon — the role of the 
centrists in reaction to the witchhunting attack on the lorum. Here we find a 
greater concern with fighting the witchhunt. Ihe centrist wishes hoth to 
fight the witchhunt in an intransigent manner and at the same time adapt him- 
self to the pressures of the petty bourgeois circles he functions in. 

Ihe ISL's role in the event is the best example of centrism today. It 
starts out, as does the SP-SDi , with a certain accommodation to the ideology 
of the ruling class. Shis takes the form of the desire for respectability, it 
claims to want to remain palatahle in the eyes of the working class. But in 
reality it is "bowing to the bourgeois influences and ideology which inevitahly 
dominate the working class in a reactionary period. Instead of fighting this 
alien influence within the ranks of the working class, it hopes in some way to 
accommodate itself to it. It hopes to appeal to the right; it wants an 
opening to the right," as Shachtman has put it. Instead of meeting Bourgeois 
politics and ideology head on, however, it hopes somehow to sidetrack this con- 
frontation and to move the liberals leftward step by step. Ihe net effect is 
that, instead of oudging the literals, the centrist himself moves to the right 
step by step. 

Ihe ISL expresses this general tendency to straddle two camps — to keep 
a foot on each side of the class line — in a most conscious way in its 
"unity" proposal. It concretizes its general search for respectahility_in the 
circles in which it functions with the proposal of entry into the SP-SDP! It 
attempts to get into the SP-SDJ oy its politics "cent, fitted, filed, rubhed, 
carved, trimmed or cold-storaged so as to ingratiate us as good aogs with the 
SP right wing," according to Hal Draper. 

Thus when it comes to the question of the direct pressure of the ruling 
class "bearing down on the regroupment discussion, Shachtman and the ISL find 
themselves already in a certain amount of agreement with this ruling class. 
Ihey have already adapted to the point where they cringe with fear at heing 
involved in the Jorum end thus heing tainted. In whose eyes are they really 
afraid of being tainted, I ask? 

On top of this the ISL finds itself in a position where it either excuses . 
or actually encourages capitulation to the witchhunt. How else can one explain 
its attitude towards the left wingers in the SP~SJuF who fought against the 
witchhunt attack emanating directly from Eastland and indirectly through 
Singer? How else explain its blaming Kuste for involving tfegro leaders end 
trade unionists, instead of venting its wrath on the Bureaucracies of these 
movements who willingly sacrif ico these leaaers at the heck and call of the 


Ihus the ISL, "by its (conscious adaptation to the Social Democracy and 
through this means to the ruling class itself, is unable to play a principled 
and militant role. Despite its intentions it is unable .to fight the witchhunt 
in a principled manner. She political bankruptcy of the unity move is thus ex- 
pressed even before the unity is consummated. Where will it end? There can "be 
only one answer to that question* it will end in the political suicide and 
eradication from the scene of an entire tendency — of Shachtmanism, 



■by John Worth 

Ihe amazing stand of Labor Action on the labor rackets probe is unques- 
tionably the strongest evidence of the role which the I SI is prepared to play in 
the American labor movement. In political termB, the ISL's capitulation* 
"before Souther' s drive to eliminate the last vestiges of opposition to a bur- 
eaucracy ~ the section in which his role has "been constantly greater and gran- 
der — is much more significant than the "tactic" of the all-inclusive party. 

Ihe plea for "democracy" — not class democracy, hut democracy in the 
abstract ; the noun "democracy"; the "democratic state of affairs" — sums up 
labor Action's response to the most serious challenge posed the American labor 
movement singe the inception of the witchhunt. tfot only does Labor Action 
refuse to condemn the Senate Committee's intervention in clear, unequivocal 
terms; it has tacitly accepted its role in "cleaning out" the union racketeers. 
Finally* it has not printed a single word in opposition to the bitter blow 
against the Hf th Amendment, launched by the A3PL-CIO executive committee, which 
now wishes to replace the courts as interpreter of the American Constitution 
though it has attacked Beck for shielding himself with its use. 

The contribution — sole and ultimate — of labor Action to an understand- 
ing of the struggle (aside from the insipid plea for a "truly democratic set of 
rules" — rule . s l mind you) has been to gently chide the "bureaucratic attitude" 
which fears the rank-and-file above all else. 

Ihe tone is not incidental. She ISL's role in the labor movement for more 
than a decade has been set by its participation in the Seuther caucus, from the 
first stages of Souther's march to Presidency of the CIO, through the present, 
in which the enormous power of. that office, under Souther' s inspired dictanen, 
moves the combined forces of the AIL-CIO. Souther's words, not Meany's, attract 
the major headlines. Seuther, not Meany, is the big voice of American labor. 
The recent attempt to build Meany as something besides the bureaucrat that he is 
~ probably entailing a considerable expenditure on his part — cannot succeed, 
short of a miracle, in destroying the pre-eminence of Walter Souther in the 

This man, from the standpoint of labor's needs and perspectives, is the 
most dangerous man in the American labor movement. Ihe hold which Seuther 
exercises on his own cadres n stemming from a genuinely militant role in the 
1930's, and protected by a militant" vocabulary today, can prove disastrous, 
because Seuther , great man of labor, is engaged in the total domestication of the 
American labor movement —its reduction before monopoly capital. His real 
power today rests there — not on the militant strategy of the 30's. As Sid Lens 
put it in a recent article: "If he (Seuther) had remained a radical as he was 
20 years ago, it is doubtful that he would have risen as high as he is ..." 
"Doubtful" is tho cautious phraseology that Lens employs for the Harvard Bus- 
iness Sevi ew. There is no "doubt" involved. 

* "Capitulation" is used advisedly. The rationale employed — to put the rank- 
and-file in motion — is worthless. To attack Seuther in the labor movement is 
to lose one's "respectability" — in the eyes of Souther. 


It is Walter Eeuther, and the "progressive" coterie which -»**»£■ ^J^ ' 
which has moved most effectively to eliminate democracy in the UaW frustrated 


E sther and t.Vi ? Labor Backet Prpbe. 

0« January 29 Senator Joseph McCarthy introduced a Senate resolution 
„*>J?,wTCLc?co^ittee» to investigate labor racketeering. Immediate- 


0„ Ja-hustv 28 one day before McCarthy introduced the resolution into the 
Senate tS SiciO SecuUve Council, by a 38 to one vote (Beck's) assuming 
S wiroStiJw of constitutional adjudicators, decreed that invocation of 
S« Sfth Mentoent hy any member of the organization would constitute grounds 
I «2?«S? That the Council "meant" this to apply only to racket mves- 
ttLu fs if irrel^vantl Z attempt to limit the use of the Pifth Amendment, 
tigcUons is irre n AS'L-CIO exec over the constitutional 

righl to SSJ'lSSfSlSSSon. cannot he considered anything out a blow 
against civil liberties in the la"bor movement. 

Thus the "progressive" sector of the labor bureaucracy, at the instigation 
D f the "liberal" Walter Heuther, simply invited the American Bourgeoisie to 
IL2 the intSrity of the lahor movement, at the same time that it launched an 
attSk on the fifth Amendment in the manner vhich is frequently contemplated, 
hut rarely carried out, in the bourgeois courts. 

Although an attempt to invoke the power of the rank and file of the Team- 
.tare^fSf aSaSl ^thod of democratic struggle, as Gordon Haskell points 
outf "Much as^Tunion leadership would like to have the movement rid of 
? « i.?7r racketeer control, they are very reluctant to encourage rani; and 
fiH vLentsIf r volt SinU established leaderships for any purpose This 
kin! oTSing "t. precedents ... father than encourage all-out membership 
S™«?m thev seek to set up another 'official leadership' to fight the 

: JT£ s ""Un StuTtely L*.5l. in his mild "agitation," aoes not .other to 
develo^the implications of his own remark, insofar as they point up the fact 
tilt 2nSr 2d the "progressive" forces of the APL-CIO have absolutely no 
interest in eSLating ""racketeers" and "communists" except to guarantee the 
monolithic character of their own domination. 

To assert that a "progressive" struggle is taking place in the effort to 
oust Beck! to discover principally opportunities for "a struggle for uemocracy,'' 
To refrain from a militant exposure of the danger inherent in this bourgeois- 
"lahor" coalition — is to display an impossible obtusity. 

A few cracks in the bureaucratic apparatus may permit, temporarily, a 
break in favor of the rank and file — as may any jurisdictional dispute bet- 


ween labor dictators. The elimination of Beck, in this particular instance, 
simply sets the stage for the final consolidation of the "bureaucracy; provides 
a harrier "between the ranks and their "leadership" which" will, short of mass 
movement to the left, he well-nigh IniMrmountchlo. The kind of a struggle that 
is being waged against Beck, under these circumstances, is least, of all "prog- 
ressive." It contains the elements of a dictatorship more severe in its con- 
sequences than anything that Beck imagined, 

Beuther vs. Stellato: Demo cracy in Local 600 

Souther's current affection for "democratic 11 process isn't without prec- 
edent. His methods in rooting out Stalinist — and anti-Stalinist — militants 
in the period of his rise to power are well known. 

The last center of opposition, i'ord Local 600, felt the full weight of his 
"tactics" in early 1952. Stellato himself had been a Seuther follower and, 
according to the report of Walter Jason (a not unbiased reporter) in Labor 
Aetion . Peb. 11, 1952, had carried on his own "coarse, stupid, and "bureaucratic 
an ti -Communist caapaign," prior to flying into the arms of the defeated Stal- 
inists, and assuming the mantle of champion of the opposition. 

Whether Stellato was exactly "driven into the arms of the Stalinists" is 
an interesting question. It is stated in somewhat overpositive terms, unfor- 
tunately*: to sustain a close examination of the facts. If, as iteuther asserted 
in late 1951, Ford Local 600 under Stellato was Stalinist-dominated, Beuther 
was remarkably reluctant to prp.Z2. the point "before the special trial board 
demanded "by the UaW Constitution* 

More adequate as an explanation of Heuther's hostility is the following 
remark by Jason (LA, Feb. 11, '52) J "The Stellato coalition protests against 
trends in the TI&W toward bureaucratism, and in many instances they are correct. 
The leanings in the UAW *way from its traditional rank and file democracy are 
disturbing and dangerous, but so far they still remain only trends." 

The "trends" came down with a bang a month later, however. Immediately 
following the witchhunt visit of the House Un->American Activities Committee, 
under Hep. Potter,' which arrived with the announced intention cf hatsheting 
Local 600, (preying nothing, incidentally) the Seuther-dominated International 
Executive 'jBosrd of the "J&W ordered 600 to "show cause why an administrator 
should not be appointed to take charge of the local union." fThe Mj.ll,twnt. 
March 1?) . 

Pour days later, Walter Jason, reporting to labor Action , wrote: 

"DLTH0IT, March 16— After a one-day hearing, at which the Beuther 
leadership acted as prosecutor, judge and jury, the international 
executive bc^rd placed a six-man administration over Pord Local 600, 
in spite of vigorous protests of the duly elected officials of that 
local union, the largest in the world. ... 

" r jh3 main charge rgainst the four top officers of i'ord Local 600 — 
Carl Stellato, president; Pat ilice, vice president; Bill Hood, 
recording secretary; and Bill G^ent, financial secretary — was that 
they were derelict in their duty because a small clique of the 
Communist Party was the real leadership of the local union." 


These were essentially the charges which Eeuther refused to press before a 
trial "board three months earlier. They are the same charges that the House 
Committee under Potter failed to establish. (Eeutherite international represen- 
tative Elesio Bomano had testified only that "The communists and their support- 
ers were in full control of the 3Pord local's weekly newspaper, lord fraets .'* 
( The Militant . Mar. 11, '52. ) 

Having to defeat the local 600 leadership in open, democratic election 
Eeuther, therefore, utilized the witchhunt hysteria which attended the Un&ner- 
ican Activities Committee visit to Detroit in order to attack an opposition 
caucus in the UAW. 

The cynical, absolutely spurious use of the "Communist control" issue is 
demonstrated "by Brother Eeuther himself. Despite his "exposure" of the Stella to 
regime, the nev election required by the UAW Constitution to take place within 
60 days, was set off to September by Eeuther — because the Eeutherites couldn't 
put a slate into the field against Stellato with any hope of success. 

The Administrative Board removed {not suspended!) six Local 600 officers 
"without even charging Communist affiliation." ( Militant . Apr. 27.) 

Most damning of all is the "explanation" which Eeuther presented to the 
Eeutherite caucus. If Walter Jason's account is inclusive the "Communist" issue 
was buried beneath an entirely different set of accusations which, with Jason's 
comments, deserve reproduction here: 

"Eeuther charges that the criticisms in ford 5 acts are not anti- 
Eeuther but anti-union. That is why it was necessary to shut it up. 

"He used two major illustrations to try to prove his point. After 
the last UAW convention, lord Jacts had a sensational full-page story 
headlined 'Betrayal. 1 This article blasted the role of Eeuther. It 
criticized the salary increases to top officers and to international 
union representatives. 

"This article, according to Eeuther, was used by other unions to 
defeat the UAW-CIO in elections. Therefore, the Stellato regime is 
guilty of anti-union activities. 

"Another article that burned Eeuther up was the recent criticism 
of the UaW unemployment conference in Washington. Eeuther 1 s program 
of fighting for more steel and copper was denounced as a 'bosses' 
boy' program. The article ridiculed claims that the conference 
accomplished anything. It accused Eeuther of hand-picking the 
delegates to that conference. 

"Of course, readers of Ford Pacts know the extremes which crit- 
icism of Eeuther reach at times in that paper. Does a paper have the 
right to be wrong? Does a local union officialdom have the ri^ht to 
criticize the policies of the top officers of the union, even if 
that criticism may be picked up by someone else? Eeuther 's ansifer 
is Pol 

"The basic trouble with Eeuther 's rule is that in practice it sigO 
nifies that TO criticism will be tolerated, for A^Y criticism may be 
picked up by other unions, like CP-controlled unions, and quoted 
against Eeuther and the uatf. 

"let us take the current issue at iord Local 600. Suppose a 
local union votes that the placing of an administrator over Local 


600 was 'bureaucratic; this action is noted ir> the next issue of 
the local union paper; then a CP-controlled union quotes the local 
union paper as calling Heuther 'bureaucratic' Under the present 
rule the local union leadership is subjected to the same charge of 
anti-unionism as Heuther levels against Ford Local 600 officials." 
(Labor Action, March 31, 1952 J 

The crudity of this particularly "coarse, stupid, and bureaucratic anti- 
Communist campaign" undoubtedly strengthened Stellato's position immensely. 
Opposition to Heuther was sufficiently strong in 600 to force withdrawal of 
Heutherite candidates for the top posts. Fifteen of 19 units elected anti- 
Beuther candidates; several Heutherite incumbents were defeated., and 80 per 
cent of the 184 General Council seats went to anti-Eeuther forces. 

Nonetheless, within the month the same "progressive" Mr. Heuther sparked a 
step by the UAW administration to "take steps at the forthcoming March cosven- 
tion to bar members of the Communist Party from holding membership in the UAW. 
That the position did not carry is not to Heuther 's credit. 

Thus we have an example of Heutherite democracy in action. That Heuther 
failed in his attack on Local 600 is not an indication of Heuther' s generosity. 
It is an indication of the depth of the democratic tradition in the UaW. Hut 
the depth of a tradition should not obscure the heavy inroads that Heuther has 
made, and is making. The fact of the matter is clear. A genuine struggle for 
rank and file control will clash with Walter Heuther. He is no friend of 
labor democracy. 

Class Conflict and the "Progressive" Bur eaucracy 

The dictatorial character of Heck's union is open and indisputable. Trad- 
itions of democracy have be em smashed: every element of opposition is crude 
and relentless. To oppose Beck and the quasi-gangster leadership of the Team- 
sters is a matter of guts — not slick political analysis. There is not, and 
never has been, any question of the attitude of socialists toward bureaucrats 
of Beck's caliber. Every conceivable opening in the struggle to overthrow the 
Teamster dictatorship should be used — except a coalition with those forces 
which intend to destroy, not the Becks, but the unions. 

In the context of the struggle which is taking place today Heuther s role 
is infinitely more dangerous than that of the Becks. The fate of organized 
labor is at stake. Heuther' s progress to power within the labor bureaucracy 
has been steady and virtually irrevocable. He is dangerous because he under- 
stands the power of the movement which he dominates. JSvery action is calculat- 
ed to prohibit open, independent class action — the battle against the 

political and economic subordination of a whole class. 

Heuther understands the need, if the bureaucracy is to sustain itself 
between capital and labor, of militant words, and aggressive "campaigns." But 
even the enormous barrage of publicity which surrounds Heuther 's contract neg- 
otiations — massive affairs — cannot obscure the fact that Heuther fails, 
in . every contract, every issue, to solve even the immediate problems of his 
own auto worker b. " 

The famous GAW /Guaranteed Annual WageJ *s a d0 ad issue, solving nothing. 


The resentment which exploded in dozens of wild-cat strikes immediately after 
Souther' s most recent 'victory 1 -- the Three Year Contract in 1955 — has not 
been exhausted. Opposition to Reuther is centered in the UAW itself. Jack 
Wilson's "Chrysler Story Infuriates Bank and 1'ile of UAW" (Labor Action. March 
18, 195? ) emphasizes that the reaction to Chrysler Vice-President Misch's 
"boast that record earnings were due to "new efficiency in operations, the elim- 
ination of 22,000 jobs, and new work standards" ( time-study 1 automation! 
speed-up!) whether or not, as Misch says, "The leadership of the UAW had been 
informed of our plans with a full "background of what was at stake." (I am 
noting the point that the UAW workers charged the bureaucracy with "betrayal. 
The most that Wilson himself has to say, after noting the shaky vote of con- 
fidence accorded Beuther "by the higher echelons, is that "Interestingly enough, 
neither the company nor the UaW has denied the facts in the Crellin story.") 

The most casual review of Labor Action 's coverage over a period, not of 
months, but of years (1) shows that it is, not a critic, but an rac^afiiffl for 
Reuther. l"or Labor Action . Iteuther 4a progressive. The word needs no qualify- 
ing quotes. But iieuther wishes to be, and £§, a dictator, limited only by the 
forces \*hich can be brought to "bear against him within the union. It is im- 
possible to utilize a iieuther, engaged in the destruction of militant, democrat- 
ic traditions, to introduce democracy into Beck's union. Toothing is further, as 
Haskell apologetically notes, from the minds of the omnipotent "leadership" of 

The role which can, and must, be played by socialists is far from the foot- 
dragging "commentary" with which Labor Action accompanies iieuther 's more intol- 
erable assaults on democracy. We cannot isolate, within a reactionary bureau- 
cracy, more ox" less — "relatively progressive" tendencies. The coalition of 
the labor leaders and the bourgeois witchhunters (for the labor probe is ob* 
viously an extension of the earlier witchhunt — the containment of labor, not 
the "Communists") is the natural opponent of socialists in and out of the 
labor movement. 

The first thing that has to be learned — or relearned — is that labor 
unions are instruments of struggle against the bourgeoisie. There are no rules 
in that struggle, except those which are imposed by the black-jack and billie. 
The class independence of the unions must be the key point in our analysis 
and activity. 

I repeat, the key element in determining the role which the ISL plays today 
can be discerned by examination of its attitude toward the Labor Rackets Probe. 
The affinity for Social Democracy — simply follows i 

"by Tim Wohlforth 


The present "Draft Besolution on Youth and the Campus and YSL Perspectives 
adopted by the 1TAC contains within it a whole series of misconceptions about the 
real meaning of a united front — misconceptions which have been held for some 
time now in our movement. 

I will attempt first to describe what a "united front" has traditionally 
meant to revolutionary socialists since the days of Lenin and then to deal spec- 
ifically with some of the formulations in this resolution as well as in the sim- 
ilar resolution adopted at the last convention. 

The Leninist Concept! cm of a United front 

Trotsky describes the position on the united front drafted "by himself and 
adopted by the Comintern in its early days as follows: "The Communist Party 
proves to the masses and their organizations its readiness in action to wage 
battle in common with them, for aims, no matter how modest, so long as they lie 
on the road of the historical development of the proletariat; the Communist 
Party in this struggle takes into account the actual conditions of. the c3ass at 
each given moment; it turns not to the masses only, hut also to those organi- 
zations whose leadership is recognized "by the masses; it confronts the reform- 
ist organizations "before the eyes of the masses with the real problems of the 
class struggle. The policy of the united front hastens the revolutionary dev- 
elopment of the class by revealing in the open that the common struggle is un- 
dermined not by the disruptive acts of the Communist Party but by the conscious 
sabotage of the leaders of the social democracy." (What Vex$, pp. ?2 f J 

The above quotation contains all of the fundamental elements of a united 
front policy adopted by a revolutionary organization. While drafted in order to 
deal with the reformists it is just as applicahle today to both the reformists 
and Stalinists and was in fact pushed during a later period by Trotsky as a 
tactic towards the Stalinists on many occasions. 

Thus the united front is a temporary working agreement between organization 
with contrary politics but who have a basis for united action on some current 
progressive demand of the working class. It is not in any sense "political col- 
laboration" and is not based on political agreement, but rather is a method of 
acting jointly where such agreement in fundamental politics does not exist. As 
Trotsky put it, "Agreement on fighting actiors may be made with the devil, with 
his grandmother and even with Hoske and Grzesinski." (The Only itoafl, p. 58.; 

Also, united fronts are not based on any opinion as to the "sincerity" or 
"legitimacy" of the parties involved. In fact revolutionists go into united^ 
front actions with reformists with the assumption beforehand that the reformists 
will if possible sabotage the venture. Por instance the Bolsheviks blocked in 
a united front with Kerensky against Xornilov even though they knew beforehand 
that Kerensky was working closely with Kornilov and carrying out his policies. 

United fronts do not mean — and are incorrect and should be opposed if the 
do mean ~~ any sort of conciliationism with the party one is uniting in action 

~4 3 - 

with. As Irotsky put it in The Strategy of the World devolution? "She most 
important, test established and most unalterable rule of every maneuver says J 
One's own party organization should never "be diluted, united or cantoned with 
another, no matter how 'friendly' the latter may be today. Such a step should 
never be undertaken which leads, directly or indirectly, openly or aaskeuly, to 
the subordination of the party to other parties or to organizations or other 
classes and therewith limits the freedom of one's own agitation, or a step 
through which one is made responsible, even if only in part, for the political 
line of other parties. Xou shall not mix up the banners, not to speak of 
kneeling before another banner." 

Laatlv, united fronts are based on the working class as it is presently- 
organized and must be conducted through the leadership of working-class organi- 
zations as presently constituted and -with their existing leadership, The 
famous "United Pront from below" is in effect not a united front but rather a 
call to all workers to join and fight under one's own banner. 

She purpose of every united front action is twofold. Pirst it is a means 
whereby the whole working class can be united in action for its own advancement 
at a time when it is divided politically. In a certain sense even the trade 
unions are "the rudimentary form of the united front -in the economic struggle 
( What Pext . p. 91) and the Soviets or workers councils as exemplified in 
Hungary are the highest .form of the united front. 

The second purpose of a united front is to expose the leadership of the 
organization or organizations one is uniting in action with. It shows concret- 
ely to the members of the oither organization that in common action it is not we 
who mislead and disrupt the working class but their own leaders. Thus a united 
front campaign is a method of reaching and winning over the members of the org- 
anizations one blocs with. Those who have faith in their politics should have 
no. fear about uniting in common action — • "with the devil," if need be. 

Thus while a united front is also negotiated (in the open) with the lead- 
ership of an opponent organization, it is in reality aimed at the membership- 
aimed at uniting in action the members of the various organizations and at 
winning them over to revolutionary leadership. 

It is for the above reason that in concrete cases it is always the revol- 
utionary, disciplined group which knows what it wants, that always takes the in* 
itiative in a united front maneuver, and which always gains from it. This is 
why revolutionaries usually have to force reformist and Stalinist organizations 
into united actions by pressure from their own ranks. 

The IMS Tasks and Orientation iteso l utj o n , 

I doubt if any movement has ever passed a more confused, incredible and 
politically harmful position on the united front than that passed by the YSL 
at the last convention. This has caused the right wing itself to change its 
line on united fronts under the pressure of events. However, it is worthwhile 
to take a look at the following paragraph (14) of the resolution which ex r 
plains why the YSL favors united fronts with liberals and opposes them with 

"While liberals are the defenders of the imperialist policies of one side 

in the cold war, and the Stalinists of the other, it does not follow that we 
adopt the seme attitude toward both. Hie liberals when they ent er into a par- 
ticular action to protest the firing of a teacher, join-an anti-SOTC campaign 
or oppose the sending of U.S. troops to Indo-China do not demonstrate the same 
meaning and consequences as when the Stalinists propose the same thing, ihe 
literal is opposing a particular action of the cold war policies at home or 
abroad from what is objectively a democratic position, and not from the point of 
view of defending or justifying a totalitarian force. It .» V^,{T£i££ 
ooint of view or it is a step we can support because if carried to its logical 
conclusion it would lead closer to our position - for civil liberties *" a f 
democratic foreign policy. Pot so with the Stalinists. The objective meaning 
and consequence of their actions leads to or is part of their support of the 
Stalinist camp." 

Thus the YSL places itself in concrete reality closer to the defenders of 
American imperialism than to the defenders of Eussian imperialism. T«e see 
even at this date the seeds of movement towards the social democracy and away 
from a revolutionary third camp position. 

But aside from this fact, the above quote (which remains the attitude of 
the right wing) removes from the discussion one element sometimes brought In 
by the right wing: the class nature of the American CP. There is no doubt 
about the class nature of liberalism. It is frankly capitalist and in the cap- 
italist camp. Yet we are for united fronts with liberals. Thus whether or not 
the CP is a working class party is irrelevant to the present discussion of a 
united front tactic towards them. 

However the above quote has two main faults: <l) It is not what it says 
about the Stalinists that is wrong but what it says about the liberals; and ^ 
(2) In any case, what it says is irrelevant to the question of a united fron. 

It is absolutely correct to state that Stalinism as a. m ovement acts as the 
agent of the Stalinist bureaucracy and is not sincerely dedicated to the 
struggles it engages in. The March on Washington movement during ^ld "ar 11. 
for example, proves that the Stalinists will sabotage the struggle of the TT egro 
people if it suits the needs of ILremlin foreign policy. Its perfidious role m 
the trade unions during the war also proves this. 

The paragraph contends, however, that the liberals' support of American 
imperialism has no deleterious effects on them — that everything they, struggle 
for they struggle for sincerely and will not sabotage. They have an "objective- 
ly democratic position" whatever in the name of Marx that creature is. This is 
as absolutely incorrect as the former statement is correct. Por instance, the 
liberals as an organized movement in World War II clasped hands with the Stal- 
inists and played the same reactionary role by their unconditional support of 
Eoosevelt. After the war the liberals instituted the witch hunt and defended it 
under Truman; they supported the Korean war, etc. In other words their support 
of -American imperialism led directly to their sabotaging the class struggle in 
this country in >»orld War II and the struggle for civil liberties following 
the war. 

The conclusion of this is not that we should not have united fronts with 
either group but rather that we should have united fronts with both of them, 

realizing all the time that either one of them may very easily sabotage the 
whole affair . 

The reason why we wish to have united fronts with supporters of both 
American and Stalinist imperialism is that on concrete issues such as civil lib- 
erties and civil rights there is a basis for joint action of the entire "rad- 
ical" youth and because it offers us a chance to expose the leadership of both 
the Stalinists and liberals in action and thus win over a section of their mem- 
bership by showing that only revolutionary socialists can struggle consistently 
for these demands. 

The YSL's Present Draft Perspectives Besolution 

The present draft resolution of the right wing on tasks and perspectives 
contains within it the line on united fronts adopted at the last plenum. This 
confused section, which in no way attempts to grope with the mistaken position 
of the YSL in the past or shows one inkling of an understanding of what precise- 
ly a united front is, has only one sentence which contains political meaning J 
"... all units, fractions and members at large must discuss with the tt.O. all^ 
questions of their activity in respect to Stalinist youth organizations." This 
means concretely that the YSI has no policy and has decided in lieu of a pol- 
icy to let the FAC decide in eech case. She rest of the section is a hodge 
podge of irrelevant and ridiculous matters such as whether or- not we call the 
Stalinist youth "comrades "j how our attitude should be dependent on the par- 
ticular tendency the group is part of inside the CP; how "we should try to 
raise tho political criteria of opposition to totalitarianism and dictatorship 
everywhere" (this is a suggestion that we "unite" with the Stalinists on only 
those questions which disunite us — in other words we oppose the united 
front); and it contains the following gem J "At the stuns time we do not have 
a policy of excluding Stalinist organizations from United I'ront activities nor 
are we in favor of including these groups under all circumstances" (i.e. we 
do not have a policy.) 

She utter inability of the right wing even to understand what a united 
front means is shown in the section of the resolution dealing with the AYS. It 
states J ''While wu are not against participating with the aYS in. joint activ- 
ity, it should only be en the basis of firm political agreement. In no case 
should our third camp politics be subordinated to vague and misleading Cannon- 
ite formulations." 

An insight into the mentality of the right wing can be gained by compar- 
ing this section with the section on 5D^i "iv'e should attempt to ccopera&n 
with liberal students wherever possible and to drew them into joins activities 
on many political issues — civil liberties, civil rights, efcc. n Vo statement 
here that "our third c?mp politics should not be subordinated to vague and mis- 
leading lib«ral3.stic pr^-imperialistic f ormulatir ns . " (By the way, while the 
resolution takes an extremely "hostile" attitude towards the aYS it calls for 
remaining "in friendly terms with" SIID.) This dual standard of softness tow- 
ards the liberals and extreme hardness toward taa Stalinists, and even worse, 
toward fejlow revolutionary socialists like the *\VS, pervades everything the 
right wing writes or says. This tells us more about the direction of the dev- 
elopment of the right wing than a million theoretical formulations. 

However this statement shows no understanding of the united front. In the 


first place, in all united fronts with anybody one keeps one's organizational 
independence and politics. One unites not on what we disagree about (third 
camp politics) hut on what we are in agreement on: civil liberties, civil 
rights the Hungarian revolution, and the like, Thus we keep our politics 
crystal clear and assume no responsibility for the politics of the other partic- 
ipants in the united front actions, but at the same time we do not ask that 
our specific politics be the basis upon which the united front is former, lo 
hold this view is not only to be sectarian but in reality to be opposed to the 
united front. 

I repeat; The united front is a method of joint action of those who 
disagree on fundamental questions and has nothing to do with political collab- 
oration or organic unity of one sort or another. 

TO. « Right W^g'a Heal Position on the United Iront 

In reality the right wing is opposed to a .united front with the Stalinists 
and uninterested in a united front with fellow revolutionary socialists. As J. 
pointed out in a previous article (LKB Vol. 1 Vo. 2) the Hew York YSL, which is 
under the domination of the right wing, opposed a united front on the Algerian 
question. They specifically wished to exclude the CP'from such a venture. 
Their reasoning was that the CP was in reality the enemy of the Algerian work- 
ers and had acted as such in the past. 

This is absolutely true, and this is exactly why we propose a united front 
to them now when they state (demagogically to be sure) that they defend the 
Algerian people. 

Here we have a classic example of the best type of united front. We take 
the CP at face value and demand that they join with us in a protest on Algeria 
in defense of the Trotskyists and others who are today being jailed by Moliet. 
If the CP accepts it is put into conflict with its tacit support of Mollet, and 
if it turns it down we have discredited it in the eyes of its own members and 
have raised ourselves in their estimation. 

However the right wing turned down this golden opportunity to test the 
Stalinists (and also to test, by the way, the social-democratic friends of the 
right wing) and in fact has done HOTHITO of any nature on the Algerian question 
despite profuse assurances to the contrary. 

Another example of the right wing's attitude is their reaction to my pro- 
posal that we go into a joint May Day celebration with the Stalinists and 
others that would protest various things which we were in agreement on. We 
would have been given complete freedom of speech and could have addressed an 
audience of ovbt 1,000. In turning down this excellent opportunity to speak 
to Stalinists and participate in a united front of all radicals on way Day the 
right wing got ver^ indignant about standing on the same platform with the 
Stalinist butchers on May Day. (This uid not prevent them from singing the 
International with the social democrats, also known for their butchery of rev- 
olutionaries.) Ho doubt given certain circumstances the Stalinists would 
Bhoot us again, but as Trotsky remarked in 1940 to a similar point; "Yes, I 
know they sometimes shoot us." (This was shortly after the May 24, 1940 
machine gun attack on him.) He said, "Do you think Lewis or Green wouldn't 
shoot at you? It is only a difference of circumstances." ( Socialist Appeal , 


October 19, 1940). As Trotsky has said on a number of occasions, to treat the 
question on this level is "to put it on the plane of spurious sentimentality." 
( The Only Boad . p. 59 •) 

Trotsky went on to say* "We can't let antipathies or our moral feelings 
sway us. Even the assailants on Trotsky's house had great courage. I think 
we can hope to win these workers who began as a crystallization of October. We 
see them negatively! how to break through this obstacle. We must set the base 
against the top. The Moscow gang we consider to be gangsters , but the rank and 
file don't feel themselves to be gangsters, but revolutionaries. They have been 
terribly poisoned. If we show we understand, that we have a common language, 
we can turn them against their leaders." (Stenographic draft of the June, 1940 
discussions with Trotsky on the Stalinists.) 

!Qie Task Before lis 

The task we in the ISI> have to face is similar to the one outlined in 1940 
by Trotsky. We must reach the membership of the Stalinists — "to set the base 
against the top." There is only one way to do this, and that is the aggressive 
use of the united front technique. Such a technique not only will help advance 
the immediate tasks of the working class, but will lead to the destruction of 
the Stalinist movement and the winning over of a significant section of it to 
revolutionary socialism. 

To stand aside from this task as the right wing does in order to remain 
"pure" in the eyes of the bourgeoisie and its representatives in the socialist 
movement, is to step aside from the struggle in a sectarian fashion. Such a 
move is in my opinion Just as disastrous within the framework of the small 
radical movement today and the tasks of revolutionaries within it as the CP's 
ultra-leftist line was within the contest of the epochal tasks of the German 
working class in 1933* 


by Shane Mage 

Under this title, I meant to present a final summation of the political 
nature of the YSL Eight Wing's. proposal to liquidate the YSL and enter the 
SP-SD2T "as it stands today." However, in view of the ISL draft resolution on 
socialist electoral action which I have .just seen, this is scarcely necessary. 

In fact, even before this latest manifestation of the political defenera- 
tion of the "Independent Socialist Tendency," further argument on the political 
nature of their "unity" proposal would constitute belaboring the obvious. We 
have already, at great length, established the capitulatory nature of their 
orientation to the SP-SDF. More significant, the leading theoretician and 
writer for the "Independent Socialist Tendency" itself has %11* ^»*«" 
political evaluation! More than three months ago, Comrade Jjlatf draper gave a 
scientifically precise definition of the Eight Wing's politics: "systematic 
political adaptation to social democracy." By all rules of rational aebate, 
this definition must he admitted hy all to he valid. Since paper's article 
appeared, not a single word has heen written hy anyone, m either the YSL or 
ISL, to dispute" ThTa7curacy of his definition. More ~ •»** f « .^"J^"*" 
about Drape? having opposed the "Labor Party- slogan in 1938, the Sigh t Winger s 
are struck dumh when it comes to answering Draper etfen orally! As ju example of 
this, at the recent dehate in 1T.I.C. between Shachtman ana ^urr^/ Weiss, the 
SWP spokesman quoted at great length from Draper's indictment of Shachtman s 
policy. TTot only was Shachtman unahle to present any answer to this, he wasn t 
even ahle to toss it off with a witty comment — he was forced to ignore it 

Our differences with Comrade Draper are, of course, substantial and well 
known. But the Eight Wingers cannot hope to escape from his analysis hy 
pointing to those differences. In fact, it is precisely because Draper dis- 
agrees with us on basic political Questions that the charge of ' systematic 
political adaptation to social democracy" has such crushing weight. 

In the context of the "systematic political adaptation to social democracy' 
of the ISL-YSL Eight Wing, the ISL draft resolution on electoral action fits m 
as the latest and most extreme swing toward social-democratic politics. 1'he 
ISL resolution states, in essence, that socialists should, as a matter of 
principle, aai run candidates against labor-backed capitalist politicians, and 
that socialists should npjt urge workers to vote against these capitalist pol- 
iticians. Thus the ISL lines up with the extreme Eight Wing of the SP-SOJi 
and against the SP left wing (just as it did, incidentally, on the issue of the 
Muste forum). The meaning of the ISL position is "neutrality" in favor of the 
Democrats (the ISL opposes any socialist campaign, it .opposes the non-labor- 
backed Bepublican candidates, it carefullj d^es £ot oppose the labor-backed 
Democrat.) This is a position identical to that of the CP which very carefully 
neither supported nor opposed Stevenson formally in the last election, but was 
openly opposed to Eisenhower. It is now fairly evident why the ISL and the ISL 
Eight Wing had no criticiBms of the CP's policy on Jimerican politics Jsee 
H. W. Benson, The Party at the Cr ossroads, *'ew International Publish- 
ing Co., January, 195?) — they were preparing to accept the essentials of that 
policy! The ISL's position is but a short step away from the position of 
rorman Thomas and the SP-SuP Eight Wing — open, support to the democratic Party 


candidates, and that step can "be easily taken. If the ISL recognizes no social- 
ist principle compelling it to oppose capitalist candidates it can find no 
principled reason preventing it from sumaorting such candidates. 

!or our part, a principled class opposition to the capitalist political 
machines is an inseparable part of the class struggle. There is no more funda- 
mental.principle of Marxism. The difference between class-collaboration and 
class struggle, above all in politics, is the difference "between social, democ- 
racy and all shades of authentic socialism. The ISL resolution would place it 
firmly on the social-democratic side of that line. That is the political nature 
of the proposal to liquidate the YSL — it can no longer he hidden "by demagogy 
about an "all-inclusive party" with "10,000 to 50,000 members." The choice 
between the Eight and Left wings is simply thisJ for or against "systematic 
political adaptation to social democracy "J 




AYS - American Youth for Socialism, the Few York City youth group of the Soc- 
ialist Workers Party at the time. It was dissolved in the fall of 1957 and 
it. members together with the left wing of the YSL and a number of mdepen- 
ientrp^Ucipfted in the launching of the Young Socialist Alliance, the 
Hew York supporter club of the YOUPO SOCIALIST. 

Challenge - The official organ of the YSL which appeared as a page in I&bpr 
Action . 

Cnchranites ~ A group which split from the Socialist Workers Party in 1953 
and has published the A^ Gaw Socialist ever since. 

CP — Communist Party. 

D^itch Bosdan — A leader of the Young People's Socialist League when it 
BU to& Sthtte Socialist Party and merged with the Socialist Youth League in 
1954 to form the YSL. He was a "left" supporter of the right wing. 

Draper Hal — Editor of Labor Actio n and one of the founding members of the 
WcfierTParty. He wasTleft critic of Shachtman during this period though 
he finally went along with the entry into the SP-SDP. 

Harrinston, Mike - He, like Denitch, was in YPSL before it merged with the YSL. 
He was 'lTatio^al Chairman of the YSL and the leading spokesman for the 
right wing. 

ISL - Independent Socialist League. This is the name taken by the Shachtman 

firoup since 1949- Previously it was known as the Workers Party which had 

its Origins in a split from the SHP in 1W. The ISL, which was fraternally 
relaS to the YSL? finally dissolved into the SP-SLJF in the fall of 1958. 

La-bor Action — Official organ of the ISL. 

LWB — Left-Wing Bulletin, the discussion bulletin published by the left wing 
of the YSL. 

LWC — Left-Wing Caucus, the official name of the left wing of the YSL. 

McBevnolds , David — One of the leaders of the left wing of the SP-SDF. 

Martin, Max — National Secretary of the YSL who was known as the unofficial 
~ spokes^n for Shachtman within the YSL and therefore a leader of the right 

Milita nt — The paper which represents the views of the Socialist Workers Party. 

yr A Q — national Action Committee, the leading body of the YSL resident in Hew 
York. It was a subcommittee of the ItEC. 

BBC — ITational Executive Committee. This was the highest body in the YSL 
between conventions. It met occasionally in plenary session. 




Oehlerite — The Oehlerite grouping "broke with the Trotskyist movement in the 
I93O' s "because of opposition to the entry of the Trotskyists into the Spcial- 
ist Party. It soon became an isolated ultra-leftist sect that finally 

£0 — Political Committee. This was the "body in the ISL comparable to the 1TAC 
in the YSL. 

Pay/lings . Oeorge — A member of the H&C of the YSL who on some questions agreed 
with Denitch. 

S PA — Students for Democratic Action, the youth affiliate of the liberal 
Americans for Democratic Action. 

Shachtman. Max — One of the founders of the American Trotskyist movement, he 
broke with Trotsky over the itussian question in 1940. He then founded the 
Workers Party. 

SLID Student League for Industrial Democracy. This is a largely defunct 

youth affiliate of the extreme right wing social-democratic league for 
Industrial Democracy (LID). 

SIP L. Socialist Labor Party. This group has a reputation as a sectarian org- 
anization because of its refusal to espouse any "reforms" or to support the 
labor movement. 

Socialist Call — Official organ of the SP-SDP. 

Socialist Youth League ( SYL ) — The youth group of the Workers Party and the ISL 
until its merger with the YPSL to form the YSL, 

SP-SDff — Socialist Party-Social Democratic Federation. This is the American 
section of the Second International, right wing international socialist 

movement . 

SWP — Socialist Workers Party. The American Trotskyist organization. 
Taylor. Sam — A member of the JTAC of the YSL and a leader of the right wing. 
Weiss . Muftry — A leading member of the SWP.